President Barack Obama began his presidency with pledges of “hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.” Despite many successes, however, the unity he promised has eluded him. As Obama’s presidency draws to an end, with the election of Donald Trump, America is painfully divided. Many fear that the vicious tone set by the 2016 election will continue under a new Trump administration.
Debuting FRIDAY, DEC. 9 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT), the HBO special VICE SPECIAL REPORT: A HOUSE DIVIDED presents exclusive access to the president, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, former Speaker of the House John Boehner, the president’s inner circle and key opponents, with VICE founder Shane Smith examining the rise of the Tea Party, the faltering of key congressional deals and the growing extremism that has left America more divided than ever.
“I could not be prouder of the work that my administration has done,” President Obama tells Smith. “But there is no doubt that one of the central goals that I’d had, which was to make the politics in Washington work better, to reduce the knee-jerk partisanship, to elevate the debate – I haven’t accomplished that.”
Featuring archival news footage and interviews with politicians, policymakers and journalists, VICE SPECIAL REPORT: A HOUSE DIVIDED chronicles some of the most divisive issues of President Obama’s presidency over the past eight years through the eyes of both parties, including the 2009 stimulus package, the Affordable Care Act and a government shutdown. It looks at how these issues, and the battles around them, contributed to a political climate that gave rise to the candidacy and ultimate election of a non-politician and outsider, Donald Trump.
Reflecting on the past decade, former House speaker John Boehner tells Smith, “The American people are looking at this going, ‘What in the hell happened to America? What happened to American politics?’
Vice President Biden adds, “When you attack another man’s judgment, hammer and tong, you can still reach a consensus. You can still work something out. But when you attack his character, or her character, when you attack their motive, then it’s almost impossible to get to ‘yes.’ And that’s one of the things that has changed so negatively in American politics, in all my years, over the last ten years in American politics. And it’s dangerous.”
The president and Democratic and Republican lawmakers describe the bitter politics on both sides of the aisle, the conditions that created it, and whether it can be fixed.
- Joe Biden, Vice President, United States
- Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada), Senate Minority Leader
- Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), Speaker of the House, 2011-2015
- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)
- Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Virginia), House Majority Leader, 2011-2014
- Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho), co-founder, Freedom Caucus
- Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff, 2009-2010
- Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California), House Minority Leader
- Frank Luntz, Republican strategist
- Michael Grunwald, TIME
- Jay Newton-Small, Washington correspondent, TIME
- Steven J. Law, president, American Crossroads, Republican super PAC