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SMERCONISH

President Trump's Tweet War With Senator Bob Corker Examined; The Possibility of Trump Being Removed From the Presidency Based on the 25th Amendment as Outlined by Corker; Harvey Weinstein's Sexual Harassment Charges May Thwart the Continued Achievements Women's Rights; Ripa Rashid Identifies the Racial Divide in the Workplace in Regards to Male-Female Worker Interaction; David Axelrod Shares His Insights on the Attack on President Barak Obama's Legacy; Ellen Byron Discusses Millennials and Retailers; Michael Smerconish Debates at The University of Pennsylvania The Topic of Political Polarization. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired October 14, 2017 - 09:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[09:00:00]

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Michael Smerconish in Philadelphia. We welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Is President Trump getting things done or just undoing anything President Obama did? The decertification of the Iran Nuclear Deal and cutting off Federal subsidies for the Affordable Care Act, both fulfill campaign promises but seem all about undermining Obama's legacy. I'll talk to former Obama Advisor David Axlerod. And when GOP Senator Bob Corker uncorked on Trump's behavior was his wording planned to invoke the 25th Amendment and launch the discussion on the President's fitness for office? If so, it worked. But is the option a realistic one?

Plus Harvey Weinstein's sexual harassment scandal ended his employment and led to a new scrutiny of male behavior in the workplace. But could it have a chilling effect for women?

And I was shocked when I found out that one of my millennials didn't know to put detergent in the washing machine. But he's not alone. Several retailers targeting the millennial market have realized they first have to teach some basics.

But first the President's recent twitter war with Senator Bob Corker may have looked familiar, stoking his base by targeting an establishment politic nemesis. But to me the specific wording of the response rhetoric by the Republican Senator from Tennessee had a greater goal--trying to spark a public debate under the 25th Amendment about the President's fitness for office. And I called it so at 6:00 a.m. last Monday right here on CNN's "New Day."

(BEGIN VIDEO)

SMERCONISH: I think he's planting seeds for questioning the fitness, the mental fitness of the President pursuant to the 25th Amendment to continue with his responsibilities.

(END VIDEO)

SMERCONISH: By week's end, it appeared that I was right and Senator Corker had succeeded. Some of Corker's recent statements made it into this explosive "Vanity Fair" article entitled, "I Hate Everyone in the White House," Trump seethes as advisors fear the President is unraveling. In that piece, by Gabe Sherman, former White House Advisor Steve Bannon was quoted as saying President Trump only has a 30 percent chance of finishing his first term because of the 25th Amendment. We're in new territory here and Corker, because he's an establishment Republican and had been a Trump supporter, is largely responsible. Now the amenity between the President and Senator Corker had been building for a while. In August after the president said the marchers in Charlottesville included some very fine people, Corker said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

SENATOR BOB CORKER, REPUBLICAN FROM TENNESSEE: The President has not yet-has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.

(END VIDEO)

SMERCONISH: And more recently after NBC News reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had called the President a f'ing moron, Corker weighed in again.

(BEGIN VIDEO)

CORKER: I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis, and Chief of Staff Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos. And I support them very much.

(END VIDEO)

SMERCONISH: Then came last Sunday when Corker was quoted "The New York Times" as saying, "He concerns me. He would have to concern anyone who cares about the nation." He also said that President Trump was treating his office like a reality show with reckless threats towards other countries that could set the nation, "on the path towards World War III." When "The Times" asked whether he thought Trump was fit for the Presidency, Corker demurred. But he's nevertheless making interesting word choices saying the President lacks stability and competence. Claiming that only a thin line of advisor is keeping us from chaos and that the President is reckless and on a path to World War III.

Those sound like the sort of things you say when making the case that someone is unable to discharge their duties as is specified in the 25th Amendment. Here's how Section 4 reads, "Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principle officers of the Executive Departments transmit to the President Pro Tem of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives, their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the duties and power of the office as acting President." [09:05:00]

I personally don't see a 25th Amendment case to be made against the President, at least not now. But my hunch is that in his responses Senator Corker was seeking to start this kind of conversation. And today, coincidentally, there are thirteen previously-planned town halls being held around the country by a group called Duty to Warn. They are mental health professionals calling for the President's removal from office under the 25th Amendment because they think he's not psychologically fit. One more thing, that "Vanity Fair" article also reported that when Steve Bannon mentioned to President Trump he should be worried about the 25th Amendment, the President reportedly replied, "What's that?" By the end of the week thanks to Bob Corker, I think he now knows. The Amendment's wording unable to discharge, is not defined. So I wanted to invite the perfect guest to elaborate and explain. I have him in Brian Kalt. He's a law professor at Michigan State and he's the author of, Constitutional Cliff Hangers, A Legal Guide for Presidents and Their Enemies. So what does it mean to be unable to discharge the powers and duties?

BRAIN KALT, AUTHOR AND PROFESSOR OF LAW AT MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY: Well, the term is left undefined and it's left undefined on purpose because they wanted it to be vague, want it to be flexible, and instead the delegate who the decision makers are-- the Vice President, the Cabinet, and if the President contests it, then Congress.

SMERCONISH: And when you say they we should make clear, we're not talking about the founding fathers. This is 1960s initiative, correct me if I'm wrong Professor, but intended in the Post-Kennedy Assassination world to make sure that in the Nuclear Age we always have a leader.

KALT: Exactly. It was passed by Congress in 1965, ratified by the states in 1967. In wake of the Kennedy Assassination and President Eisenhower had health problems and they wanted make sure that if the President was physically unable to do the job that there was always someone there to pick up the duties and powers of the office.

SMERCONISH: Unable to discharge duties might not be defined, but nevertheless what type of a scenario do you think they had in mind? And do you see any evidence of that today?

KALT: Well, I think they really had in mind a situation where the President was in a coma, or the President was missing, where he's physically unable to do the job. And not a situation where the President is doing his job very badly. It does leave room for that situation where if the President is mentally sort of losing his marbles, for them to step in. But it doesn't work very well in that situation, and they set it up so that if that was the situation that the Vice President and the Cabinet would have to be absolutely sure that this was going to work, that everyone would agree that the President wouldn't be able to respond before they did this. Because if the President can respond, the President can send this to Congress. He can say, I'm just fine. And then they need two thirds in the House, two thirds in the Senate to displace him. And that's intentionally more votes than you need to remove the President from impeachment. So they didn't want to this to be an end run around impeachments for Presidents who can do things but are just doing them really badly. It's really about when they're incapacitated.

SMERCONISH: We've never had a coup d'etat attempted here in the United States, right? We've had Presidents go under anesthesia and temporarily relinquish the duties and powers of their office, but this has never been pursed. And if we game it out, and the President, a President-this is hypothetical--were to catch wind of it, nothing would stop him from firing cabinet secretaries who were part of it, right?

KALT: Exactly. That's why it's really for a President who is physically again in a coma or something like that, unless they're meeting in secret. If the President gets wind of this, he can fire anyone on the Cabinet he wants. He stack who the decision makers are. So it really isn't well-suited for this sort of situation.

SMERCONISH: Additionally, this was playing from the language the Vice President needs to be onboard. So even if you had Cabinet secretaries, maybe theoretically it's the big four cabinet secretaries should put together such an effort, if the VP doesn't go along with it, it's done.

KALT: Exactly. If the Vice President isn't onboard, nothing happens. And also if there is no Vice President, if there's a vacancy there, then there's no way to do this. But, yes, you need to have at a minimum Vice President Pence onboard with this. And Vice Presidents historically have been very reluctant to move in that direction. Even before there was a 25th Amendment, they didn't want to be seen as usurpers.

[09:10:00]

And politically that's a very tricky maneuver to play off, and so it raises the bar.

SMERCONISH: Professor, stick around. Here's something that came in from my Facebook page. Put it up, and I'll read it aloud, what do we have? 25th Amendment wasn't designed to remove unpopular Presidents. If Trump survived the challenge, it would strengthen him. If he was removed, people would rightly call it a soft coupe. John Andrews has it right, doesn't he, Professor Kalt?

KALT: Yes, I think thought it's missing the point. But the mission isn't to remove him if he was unpopular, it would be if they thought that he was mentally unfit rather than just making bad decisions. It doesn't really make for that either. I think it's also important not to use the word removed. Because unlike impeachment where the President is gone, if he's impeached and convicted, with this procedure the President is only temporarily displaced. And when he comes back and says I'm fine, the Vice President and the Cabinet either say okay or it goes to Congress. So he can keep doing that as many times as he wants. He's still there, still the President and he's not actually removed.

SMERCONISH: Thank you, Professor, I appreciate your expertise. KALT: Thank you for having me.

SMERCONISH: I'll say with the Facebook comment, I agree with the second part that politically speaking, this conversation probably emboldens President Trump. These gatherings taking place today under the headline, Duty To Warn, probably strengthen him within his core supporters.

Still to come, Hollywood Weinstein's sexual harassment scandal has led to new scrutiny of boss behavior, but could it make things more difficult for women in the workplace?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:00]

SMERCONISH: Hollywood Producer Harvey Weinstein's patterns of sexual harassment and pay-offs which led to his ousting has been dominating the headlines all week and after similar allegations about Bill O'Reilly, Roger Ales, Bill Cosby, some say this could prove a tipping point of awareness of office gender politics. But could there be unintended consequences that paradoxically make it more difficult for women in the workplace? This piece by Claire Cain Miller in the upshot column of "The New York Times" caught my eye, "Unintended Consequences of Sexual Harassment Scandals" and it reported and I quote, "In Silicon Valley, some male investors have declined one-on- one meetings with women or rescheduled them from restaurants to conference rooms. On Wall Street certain senior men have tried to avoid closed-door meetings with junior women. It sounds like with men trying to avoid these situations, women could find themselves with fewer opportunities to earn advancement and enjoy equal status." What can we do about this? Joining me now is Ripa Rashid, Co-President of the Center for Talent Innovation. She's been a management consultant for many firms including Time Warner. Ripa, do you buy into this that one of the unintended consequences might be this chilling effect on the workplace?

RIPA RASHID, CO-PRESIDENT OF THE CENTER FOR TALENT INNOVATION: Michael, sadly, yes. That's the reality of it. It was bad enough to start off with. Is some of the data we've tracked over the years shows that 64 percent of senior men avoid one-on-one contact with women to start off with because they're afraid of sexual innuendo. Obviously this is going to make it much worse not just for the men but for women, too. Fifty percent of the women in our studies avoid one- on-one contact with senior men for that reason because people are going to think. I myself have had experiences working all over the world as a management consultant, where when I've been having a drink with a senior colleague coming back from a hotel and people have thought I am an escort. I mean, this is the reality. Women are still sexualized int he workplace. And until we're seen as equal thinkers, innovators, creators, when we're still primarily seen as sexual beings still, it's going to make it worse.

SMERCONISH: I was going to say give me a scenario that comes to mind, but you just did-quite a scenario. So in the traveling scenario, for two business colleagues, two men, to have a drink at the end of the day, no big deal; they establish some camaraderie. It spills over into the workplace. If it's a man and a woman, all of a sudden it's uh-oh, how are we being perceived and is someone going to think I'm the new Harvey Weinstein of my Fortune 500 Company?

RASHID: Precisely. And you know I think it makes it even worse if it's a woman of color. And I don't know if you want to go down that path but there's a race component on that too.

SMERCONISH: How so?

RASHID: I don't know if I'd been a white woman in these instances, because I was in Mexico, I was in Singapore, when those incidents happened so I was often assumed to be a local person and I was with a Caucasian male boss as I was working for an American company. So there's a race component to it and that makes it worse. But the upshot here is it's always been tough. And this could go into two directions. It could go in the direction of making it safer because we have vigilance and smart companies are going to seize upon this to make environments where you can create transparency, you can create safety, you can create a lot of dialogue around it and stop sexualizing women.

SMERCONISH: So if you and I were colleagues, we're not having that drink, and we're not going to share a meal. Instead, we're going to be meeting in a fishbowl inside the office. That hardly seems like a solution.

RASHID: That is not necessarily the solution and it's two-fold. It's one that you create environments where maybe there are designated restaurants you go to, and people know you and I are colleagues and working on a project together. That's probably it. They know for years you and I have been working together and believe in you and you believe in me, and together we're going to create something good. So that's what we call this dynamic of sponsorship and you know I think the worst outcome of what's going on right now in America could be the negative fallout you very rightly point out.

SMERCONISH: It seems to me that it extends not just from upper management positions like some of the scenarios you may have been describing but all the way down to the summer internship program,

[09:20:00]

where no instead of mentoring and providing some level of tutoring for a person who's still in a college in graduate school, you're going to have some male in upper management thinking maybe I best not spend too much time with her.

RASHID: You know what, you can focus on that. And maybe that's going to happen; there are ways you can warn against that. You can create group-based mentoring and sponsorship. Because the reality is when women are going to be needed to mentored by men because that's who still holds power. Right? Ninety-five percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are men. I mean they're white men. So you're going to need access to them to have power. That way it is now do you desexualize it? And the other thing that's been pointed out in the press is there's a generational difference. If every Harvey Weinstein, there's a Judd Apatow who's done it right with a Lena Dunham, right? So we need to showcase who has done it right.

SMERCONISH: OK bottom line is it would be a horrible aftermath of this scandal if there were now less opportunities for women in the workplace because of his bad behavior.

RASHID: Absolutely. And I see it as an opportunity to break the silence. What is happening? What is happened because there's been this incredible silence around all of egregious behaviors that have been going on over the years? And because why we've been silent? Fear of retaliation, fear of those doors of opportunities closing up to us. That's not good enough. Women, men cannot abdicate their responsibility here to continue to sponsor the best and the brightest no matter what they are, regardless of gender, regardless of sexuality, men cannot abdocate their responsibilities to creating a better workplace. Because you know what? We're going to go to workplaces where aren't harassed.

SMERCONISH: Ripa Rashid, thank you so much for being here. I appreciate your expertise.

RASHID: Thanks for having me, Michael.

SMERCONISH: My twitter page is hot. Let's see what you got. Smerconish, instead of looking at the behavior, men will use the highlight on the sexual harassment to excuse to shy away from hiring women. I mean, Heather, I see that you're an attorney. That's another potential downside. Jeez, she's really competent, and I'd like to hire her, but somebody is going to think we're carrying on in a way we shouldn't. Maybe instead I'll hire him. That would be another bad Weinstein outcome. One more if we have time for it. They don't know when telling a woman she looks nice could become sexual harassment, says Elizabeth. I mean I think that some things that are completely innocent and perhaps complimentary will as well be reigned in as a result of this. And that's not a good thing either.

Still to come, how can marketers sell things like mops and washing machines to millennials if they don't know how to use them? By teaching them the basics, and I will explain. And when the President decertifies the Iran Nuclear Deal and cut off subsidies to Obamacare, but he just making good on campaign promises or trying to erase the legacy of Barak Obama? I will ask former Obama Advisor David Axelrod.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:25:00]

SMERCONISH: Is President Trump achieving an agenda or just obsessed with upending that of his predecessor? That question arose again late this week when he decertified the Iran Nuclear Deal and signed an executive order to cut off the Affordable Care Act's Federal subsidies to insurance companies endangering coverage for many lower-income Americans. And this of course followed his previous backing, backing out of the Paris Climate Accord, the deregulation of environmental protections, the tightening of immigration law, campus sexual assault, transgender policies and the list goes on and on. His supporters say he's following through on campaign promises. But does it reflect an overall policy vision or is it just to eradicate any trace of President Obama. Joining me now is David Axelrod who was Chief Strategist for Obama's Presidential Campaigns and his Senior Advisor as President. He's now of course the Director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and he hosts CNN's Ax Files. David, you know Barack Obama, President Obama better than anyone else. How hard must it be for him to remain on the sidelines and watch this happen?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN AXE FILES HOST: You know, I get this question a lot and I get the question about the dismantlement of the Obama legacy, and I think his reaction is the same as mine, which is it's not about the dismantlement of his legacy. I'm confident that Barack Obama will go down in history in very positive terms. He left as a popular President. He led the country through an epic economic crisis, and did some very important things. But I think what disturbs him, and what should disturb many, is the impact of these decisions. I believe the President thinks that this is chum in the water, fulfilling his campaign promises for his base. I also believe that he is motivated by trying to obliterate the Obama legacy, which is in part also chum in the water for his base.

But here's also this other thing at play that I don't have the qualifications to analyze that clearly motivates him. Because any time he talks about anything that President Obama did, he talks about it in these very caustic terms as if he's jealous or envious of which the esteem with which Obama left office. But the impact of the decisions of what would worry Obama and what should worry everyone else, the walking back of the Iran Agreement is not going to make America safer.

[09:30:00]

And his own national security advisers have testified on this fact and on the fact that Iran is actually abiding by the terms of this agreement.

The -- the -- the steps he's taken with the Affordable Care Act are tragic because they could lead to the loss of life and certainly the loss of security for millions of Americans. So whatever his motivation, the impacts of his decisions are what should worry everyone, not just President Obama but all Americans.

SMERCONISH: And I guess my question is do not these things involve core values because as you well remember at his final presser as president, President Obama laid out the scenario that he thought would -- would get him back in the game. In fact, roll that clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARAK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake, I think would be something that would merit me speaking out.

SMERCONISH: I mean I guess one of the questions in my mind is whether there's a political concern or calculus here on the part of President Obama where he knows that it would suit President Trump to have him back out there as a principle ---

AXELROD: Yes.

SMERCONISH: --- antagonist ---

AXELROD: Yes.

SMERCONISH: --- because you know he played Trump would play that to his base.

AXELROD: I think that's absolutely true Michael and there are a couple of other things. One is President Obama saw how former presidents treated him, and they treated him with great respect and they -- because only a president can appreciate what other presidents are dealing with.

So they gave him space, and he -- he is mindful of that so he doesn't want to be a constant presence in the debate; and then the -- the other element of is -- is that he believes that other people have to surface, that he can't be sort of the spear carrier on every fight from now until the end of his useful life, that other people have to step up and take up these concerns.

But you are absolutely right. I think Donald Trump would like nothing better than to have a running debate with Barack Obama over these issues because that, too, would gin up his base which seems be aroused by those kinds of fights.

SMERCONISH: Seven pm tonight on the "AXES FILES" a very special interview with Nancy Pelosi. Question, does she fit the stereotype, the brand I'll put it that way, up close and personal of her being in a feat San Francisco Liberal when you sit down with her?

AXELROD: Well, that's certainly the caricature that opponents like to paint of her, but I -- the thing that intrigues me most about Nancy Pelosi and I hope people will learn something from the discussion we had I certainly did was that she at that the core is the -- the young woman who grew up as a child in Baltimore.

The -- the -- the daughter of a mayor, of a ward politician, you ask her what she learns about politics growing up she's very blunt about it. She says I learned how to count, meaning she knows where to find the votes and that's why she's so durable; I mean she is a tremendous organizer, a tremendous strategist.

She's certainly -- I don't think there would have been an Affordable Care Act without Nancy Pelosi, and do this depiction of her as kind of -- some kind of airy fairy San Francisco Liberal is so far from the reality of who she is as a politician, and people have constantly underestimated her because of It.

SMERCONISH: We're not going to give it all away for free. People have to watch it at 7:00 p.m. tonight, but she had a very interesting response to a question that I thought was fair I would have asked of Nancy Pelosi. Roll that exchange for David Axelrod.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AXELROD: Just reading between the lines that given the threats to some of these priorities that you care about that you're not likely to leave before the next Presidential Election?

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY PELOSI, MINORITY LEADER OF THE UNITES STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: How many men have you asked that question to?

AXELROD: I haven't had -- I would love to have Senator McConnell sitting in that chair, Speaker Ryan.

PELOSI: It's like that many and you know it's certainly a girl question.

AXELROD: Do you think it is?

PELOSI: Oh yeah I think -- of course I think it is, and I think it -- it -- I think it was part of -- of -- of Hillary Clinton's election as well. But I do know why I'm there, what my purpose is, what a difference I can make, and do I think I'm indispensable?

[09:35:00]

PELOSI: Absolutely not, but I do think I have a responsibility, which I intend to honor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: Look, I thought it was a fair question. The Democratic Party despite all the foibles at the top at the White House is in pretty sad shape right now when you look at the House, the Senate and what's going on in Governor's mansions and State Legislators all across the country.

AXELROD: Right there's no question about and I you know I was there for the first part of the administration, and I was there for the president's re-elect in 2012. So I bear some responsibility for that, and I'm more than happy to acknowledge that.

Not necessarily happy, but I'm more than willing to acknowledge that you but she -- it's interesting she's very, very sensitive to this notion that somehow she is detriment to the party as a symbol.

And when I asked her about that in another part of the interview, she -- she was very sharp in response. She resents very much these younger members who are trying to dismiss her. She said I'm grateful to them for -- because they only make my caucus more supportive; I said you don't sound very grateful to me and I don't think she really is.

SMERCONISH: Seven pm tonight, David Axelrod the "AXE FILE" with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Thank you as always David.

AXELROD: Thanks.

SMERCONISH: Lot of Tweets coming in. Let's put some of them up on the board. What do we got?

So Smerconish, did you not watch the speech? This has nothing to do with Obama but more about stopping another N. Korea Iran situation.

Brandon if you were to ask me whether the -- the President Trump has an ideological core, I would say no, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, but the only common denominator of everything that he's done in office seems to be that it's the opposite of that which Obama did.

Now his proponents would say, yeah those were all campaign promises, but it just seems like anything you put in front of him and tell him Obama went a different way, he's for. Give me another one, what'll you got?

Smerconish Trump is still seething over the past correspondence dinner where Obama made him, you know Mike Edelman I -- I remember it I think it was the 2011 White House Correspondence Association Dinner, and but for that you know meat loaf, Gary Busey exchange and how they sold steaks at the -- to you know to the Omaha Steaks, I still question whether he'd have thrown his hat into the ring.

So I think you make a good point. Still to come it used to be that a parent's responsibility included instructions on how to change a tire or replace a fuse, but things have changed. Today many Millennia's struggle to hang a picture, mow the lawn, or do a load of wash.

Find out how retailers are preparing to fill these gaps with knowledge in a moment, and speaking of Millennia's, a bunch of very smart ones challenged me a debate this week at the University of Pennsylvania over whether the media is responsible for America's political divide. I'll tell you what happened.

[09:0:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: hey, fill in the blank. I can't believe I had to teach my millennial son or daughter to do blank. I'll go first one of our four extremely bright did his first load of laundry at college and then texted his mother that she had neglected to tell him to add detergent.

I myself had provided instruction on where to write the return address on an envelope, and when I asked radio listeners on my Sirius XM program what their kids didn't know, the call board was swamped. Here's a small example.

TOM, PHILADELPHIA: My son came home a while back, he said, "Dad, there's something wrong with the car. It will not go over 30 miles an hour and I have to floor it."

I said let's take a look, I started it up, I took the hand brake off, he said "What did you just do?"

SMERCONISH: Oh, my gosh.

TONY, COLORADO: I spent a good couple of hours tying to teach him how to use that phone, and I kept asking him "Do you hear a dial tone?" And kept asking me, "What is a dial tone?"

DAVID, PITTSBURGH: I'm a family electrician and friends and family and their kids call me, and I get all the way to their house and it's a light bulb that's burned out.

SMERCONISH: So there are kids, my kids are not alone. The "WALL STREET JOURNAL" reports that to target their generation quote "Companies such as Scotts, Home Depot, Inc., Proctor & Gamble, William-Sonoma, West Elm and Sherwin-Williams are hosting classes and online tutorials to teach such basic skills as how to mow the lawn, use a tape measure, mop a floor, hammer a nail, and pick a paint color.

Joining me now the author of that piece headlined "America's Retailers Have a New Target Customer: The 26 Year Old Millennial" is Journal Staff Reporter Ellen Byron.

SMERCONISH: Ellen the single biggest age cohort in the United States today is these 26-year-olds.

ELLEN BYRON, CNN JOURNAL STAFF REPORTER: That's right. They --- there are more 26-year-olds in the United States than any other age group, and that's followed by 24-year-olds, 27-year-olds, 25-year-olds.

SMERCONISH: Put that up on the screen so that people can appreciate the graph. There it is that shows -- and so it's -- it's -- it's understandable that the retailers and manufacturers they want to have that market share.

But I -- I thought it was -- it was hysterical and sad that you report that Home Depot, they actually wondered if we have a video on how to use a tape measure, maybe that's too condescending.

BYRON: Well, yeah, there was some debate internally whether that they might be selling consumers short, but they had data behind this decision. They were looking at the frequency of questions online about subjects exactly like that, and the -- the traffic on the video is doing well.

[09:45:00]

BYRON: And -- and I'd heard this from company after company, that there are these questions consumers are asking, young adults, and so they want to be the resource and hopefully ultimately the store where these young adults buy stuff from.

SMERCONISH: Something else that you report which is a possible explanation. We can put this quote up on the screen "Millennials you say are different, though, especially in the rate in which they achieve independence and adulthood." Listen to this. "In 2016, just 24% of 25 to 34-year-olds had experienced all four of what the Census Bureau calls major life milestones. Having lived away from parents, having been married, having lived with

a child and being in the labor force. That compares to the same age group in 1975 when 45% had achieved all those milestones." That's probably an explanation for what we're discussing, right?

BYRON: Yeah, exactly. I mean there are some fundamental differences between young adults today and what they were a generation, two generations ago; and of course that's a result of living through the recession.

That's a result of being saddled with huge student loans, but also it's just a realization that they had fundamentally in some ways different child hoods than previous generations. This is that group of kids who had very scheduled child hoods doing lots of activities ---

SMERCONISH: Right.

BYRON: --- play dates and also really busy parents. Many times both parents were working, so there wasn't necessarily that opportunity to go back in the garden and get your hands dirty planting tomatoes.

SMERCONISH: I'm so glad you said that in defense of millennial because I've got four of them, you know they're -- they're busy, their not malingers. They're busy doing stuff. It's just not the kind of stuff that -- that I did or perhaps you did when we were growing. Anyway great piece thank you so much for writing it and for being here.

BYRON: My pleasure.

SMERCONISH: Speaking of millennial, my regular viewers and radio listeners know I've been hammering the media for its role in creating our climate of political polarization for years.

Well, this week I had a unique chance to try to win over some youthful converts. I expected an invitation from the Penn Political Union and Andrea Mitchell Center for the study of democracy at the University of Pennsylvania.

My Alma mater for law school to be their first ever guest to participate in a debate against students, we debated a resolution which said this "Political polarization in the United States is primarily the product of a hyper-partisan and sensationalist media."

I argued in support of the resolution, noting that the rise of a polarized media over the past three decades coincided with the widening divide in Washington and state capitals across the country. Coincidence, I think not.

My opposition, Justin, Elena, Rebecca were three smart and articulate speakers. So too the moderator Brian. They argued polarization is a symptom, not a cause, that polarization has always been present, and what has changed is the delivery of our news and information.

Each of us tried to use the sometimes negative influence of social media to our advantage. In my closing, I attempted to bring John McCain into my side of the argument. Mentioning his name led to a lot of finger snapping in the audience,

which I didn't know how to interpret, as you'll see.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: One person who gets what I've described for you is Senator John McCain. You'll recall that recently he returned to the Senate after having been diagnosed with -- is that a bad thing or good thing?

AUDIENCE: Good thing.

SMERCONISH: Good thing, OK. Wow, did it take this long for something good to happen?

He lamented the change that he'd seen in the Senate during the course of his career. He said "We become more tribal, and he wished that they would get back to when the Senate was regarded as the world's most deliberative body."

He embraced compromise, and then he said something I want to quote literally. He said "Stop listening to the bombastic loud mouths on the radio and television and the Internet. To hell with them, they don't want anything done for the public good."

And then my favorite part of the quote, "Our incapacity is their livelihood." Well, McCain knows of what I'm speaking, he knows that these provocateurs hold sway over primary voters and are determining the composition of the House and Senate as a result.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SMERCONISH: In the end, the resolution passed 37 to18. I was pleased with the result, but I am not boasting in victory. After all among the six different caucuses, the Centrists were deadlocked at 4-4. That was a personal defeat.

I thought these were my people. It was a wonderful experience and great fun. The kids are all right.

[09:50:00]

Still to come, your best and worst Tweets and Facebook comments, like this one, "Coddled by helicopter parents! Parents are even going on job interviews with at my" --you know, I know, Nancy, that's the easy explanation, but I -- I really think two parents working has not left a lot of time to be alone with your kids, you schedule them. You don't do some of the recreational activities that our parents did with us. I'm in defense of those Millennial, back in a sec.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SMERCONISH: Hey thank you so much for your comments via Twitter and Facebook, what'll we have.

[09:55:00] Via Twitter this, "No 25th Amendment case here. It is nothing more than a coup attempt in gestation. Move along, Corker." Hey, James, if you -- and you were paying attention to what I was saying.

I -- I do not see a 25th amendment basis given the record as it now exists, but I wanted to explore what I see in some of Senator Corker's comments because I think it was very deliberate that he was trying to weave together this kind of a public conversation.

From Facebook, this comes in, what is it? "We say thank goodness Obama didn't invent penicillin." Everyday -- it does seem Keri, does it not? If Obama was for it, he's against it. If Obama's against it, then he's for It, but of course he would say, that's what I ran on. Those were my promises.

One more if we've got time via Twitter, "Hey, Smerconish, love how you conservatives trash Democratic Party when YOUR PARTY has cheated, lied, & suppressed votes." You must only have been watching a small snippet of the program.

Watch the balance of the program, because I don't think the conservatives want me as a conservative. See you next week.