updated 9/1/2009 10:30:10 AM ET 2009-09-01T14:30:10

Guests: E.J. Dionne, Joan Walsh, Adam Schiff, Ron Christie, Jack Rice, Bill

Press, Sam Stein, Sen. Chuck Schumer


ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  I‘m Ed Schultz.  This is THE ED SHOW.


SCHULTZ:  Good evening, Americans.

Live from 30 Rock in New York, it‘s THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

I was on the road this weekend, spent a couple of days in the heartland in the Mountain West. 

Folks, I‘m telling you, there is a movement sweeping through the country that the people are going to be delivering an ultimatum to their Democratic leaders—either you back the public option, or we‘re not going to back you.

That‘s what I heard on the road.  And I‘ll show you the town hall video coming up and this ultimatum for Senators Udall and Bennett in Colorado. 

Check this out.  “Shooter‘s” out flapping his jaw again, and he‘s of course in full fear-monger mode.  He says the Department of Justice decision to investigate detainee torture is just outrageous political act.

Well, “Dickster,” it takes one to know one.  I guess former CIA officer Jack Rice is going to be here to tell us more tonight. 

Plus, Michele Bachmann, she‘s back in “Psycho Talk.”  It‘s almost as if she never left. 

Rabbi Shmuley, he‘s getting it done.  And Tom Ridge is taking it all back.  Interesting. 

Coming up, a great panel tonight. 

And get your cell phones ready because we‘re going to have another text survey. 

But first, tonight‘s “OpEd.”

I‘ve always loved to go out on the road and see what the folks are thinking.  And I can tell you after being on the road this weekend, there is a storm brewing across this country when it comes to health care reform. 

Now, what our team saw this weekend on the road in Indiana and in Colorado, absolutely astounding.  Democrats in the liberal base of the party are drawing a line in the sand with their own elected officials.  They say, look, either you‘re going to support the public option or you‘re going to lose our support.  And tonight they‘re putting it in writing. 

Now, I spoke in French Lick, Indiana, on Saturday to the Democratic Editorial Convention in French Lick, Indiana.  It was all about the public option.  That‘s all folks want to talk about.  They‘re sending a very clear message to these Blue Dogs in the congressional delegation—look, either support the president and the public option, or we may not be there. 

Then, Saturday night, I spoke to the Broomfield Democrats in Denver, Colorado.  And after listening to the Democrats in two different states in one day, I just put it out to the Broomfield Democrats. 

I said, “Look, are you willing to throw Udall and Bennett under the bus if they‘re not going to support a public option?”  And they all roared.  And I said, “Well, put it in writing.” 

Hours later, I had this letter from the executive council and the leadership of the Democratic Party there in Broomfield County, and this is it.  This is signed. 

Now, you know, we just haven‘t seen anything like this.  Here we have a situation where the very people that voted for the Democratic senators in Colorado are now willing to put it on record and on paper and say , look, if you can‘t do public option, we can‘t support you anymore. 

I want to read this to you tonight, folks. 

“Be it resolved: The executive Committee of the Broomfield Democrats on this date on behalf of the party members, the county declares its support for President Obama‘s call for a robust public option health care plan, one that an integral part of the comprehensive reform that ensures that all in America have affordable access to quality, basic health care, irrespective of health conditions, socioeconomic status, or employment status.”

Now, “The present opportunity for the true health care reform that meets the above objectives is too fragile and too important for our nation for to it to be lost to the politics of special interests.  It should be clear by this proclamation that all elected officials and candidates for office desiring support of our party either by financial or by ballot must evidence clear support for this resolution as stated.  This applies to our Democratic colleagues Senator Udall, Senator Bennett of Colorado, and Representative Polis, as well as other candidates seeking office in the city and county of Broomfield, Colorado.”

Now, folks, this is a courageous move.  And I think that this is going to be happening in a lot of counties across the country. 

There‘s an undercurrent across America in Democratic counties that if you don‘t support this, we‘re not going to go back to the well with you. 

Now, you‘ve seen all these crazy town hall meetings all summer long.  Here‘s my radio town hall in Boulder, Colorado, at the University of Colorado just last night.  Listen to this crowd.  They‘re just getting right after it. 

Here‘s what they had to say. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The majority leader, Harry Reid...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Where has he been?  Why hasn‘t he grown a set?



SCHULTZ:  So, this is outside the beltway.  This is outside the Big Apple.  This is out there in the heartland, in Indiana and in Colorado. 

This is a grassroots effort to send a message to elected Democrats, you better get it together and support President Obama and the public option.  Health care reform is what it‘s all about. 

And they‘re getting real tired of this yellow dog or hound dog or Blue Dog or whatever the hell kind of dog you want to be.  You have to support the president on this or the Democratic movement in this country that elected Barack Obama is going to unravel. 

I want you to get your cell phones out.  I want to know what you think. 

Should Democrats support a final bill without a public option?  Text “A” for yes and “B” for no to 622639.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the program.

Joining me now is E.J. Dionne of “The Washington Post.”

E.J., I have never seen this before, where you have got the very people who elected senators now telling them within the year of a new president, either you do this or don‘t come back to us for the money, and don‘t come back to us for the support. 

Do you think this kind of stuff could have an impact on the whole process? 

E.J. DIONNE, “THE WASHINGTON POST”:  Well, yes, I do, Ed, think that there is more pressure now for a public plan within the party and around the country than there was before.  But I think that we who are progressive, who really want health care reform, have to be able to keep several ideas in our heads at the same time.

On the one hand, I agree with you, the plan would be a lot better with a public option in it.  President Obama made a mistake when he started negotiating with himself in the public about this.  I think he caused all kinds of trouble he didn‘t need to cause, although he did help set off this movement.  But I think there are a couple of problems here. 

One is, we‘re talking so much about the public plan, or the public option, that we really have stopped—we have said, yes, it should be in, or no—you know, and we‘re against those who don‘t want it.  But I think a lot of people out there still don‘t know what‘s in that public option. 


SCHULTZ:  I‘ll tell you exactly what it is.  E.J., here‘s where they are. 

Pre-existing condition, gone.  Everybody in this country, no matter what kind of money you make, you‘re going to get covered, and there‘s going to be a subsidy. 

Now, that‘s what the people want.  Now, the question is—you know, they‘re now willing to put it on paper in some counties in this country and say, look, if you don‘t support this, then why did we send you to Washington in the first place?  The question is, is Obama going to seize this moment and seal the deal?  Because it appears to me that the people are with him.

DIONNE:  You just described two things people care about passionately. 

You didn‘t use the words “public plan.”

You talked about pre-existing conditions, which people really are passionate about.  They‘re passionate about not being bankrupted by illness when an insurance company cuts off your coverage.  And they‘re passionate because they think they‘re paying too much for too little. 

And I think that we started losing ground in August in this debate because we stopped talking about those most basic things.  And I think the other problem we have—and I don‘t know the answer to this, because I think as a negotiating tactic, as a way to put pressure, I think people who support the public plan should bring all the pressure they can. 

At the end of the day, if you had a health bill that covered everybody, or almost everybody, had really tough insurance requirements, and, say, only had a trigger instead of a public plan in it, I think it would be very difficult for progressives in conscience to say, no, we‘re going to walk away from covering 45 million Americans.  And I think that‘s the tricky part here, because I think a plan with a public option in it would be much better than without.  But I think there are a lot of things we can get one way or the other, and I think we should use the public plan to get everything we can out of the health care bill. 

SCHULTZ:  E.J., this is a demanding moment by the American people.  They are speaking clearly.  All these nut jobs have shown up without information at these town hall meetings. 

These are Democrats now standing up telling Democrats, we‘re not going to support you anymore.  You have to get this thing done. 

Pre-existing condition, no one is going to be excluded.  It‘s got to be affordable.  We don‘t want co-ops.  And yes, eventually, we do want single player, but you‘re not going to be able to get that in one fell swoop. 

I think that this is an opportunity for the president to step up and have confidence knowing that the American people are with him.  But the problem is that you‘ve got some conservative Democrats that think that, gosh, if I do this—if I don‘t do this, I‘m going to become a target and then I‘m not going to get re-elected, and I‘ve got to protect my nest.

That‘s the disconnect as I see it.  You think there‘s room for negotiation. 

DIONNE:  Well, I think that a lot of the conservative Democrats are misreading their own districts on the public plan issue.  That‘s where I agree with you, because I think for a lot of Americans in those districts, they know they could benefit if a plan had a public plan in it. 

But if you find yourself at the end of the line—let‘s say your campaign succeeds at getting every Democratic senator to vote for a public option, and Massachusetts doesn‘t change its law, and there are 59 votes there, and you can‘t make it work through the reconciliation process, you need that last vote.  If Olympia Snowe comes up to you and says, I‘ll go all the way with you, but I like the trigger, are you saying you would walk away from that bill? 

SCHULTZ:  Absolutely.  I would.  If it were my call, based on what the people want, I would. 

There‘s no appetite for Democrats out in the heartland for bipartisanship.  You have got Inhofe the other day saying he‘s not even going to read the bill. 

DIONNE:  We‘re not talking about—Ed...

SCHULTZ:  Go ahead. 

DIONNE:  Ed, you know, I agree with you.  If you‘re going to say that negotiating endlessly with Chuck Grassley and Mike Enzi, when they‘re not even willing to say they‘re going to support the final outcome, that‘s not going to work.

SCHULTZ:  Well, that‘s intimidating some Democrats.

E.J., I‘ve got to run.  I appreciate your time tonight.  Enjoy your day.

E.J. Dionne, “Washington Post,” with us.

For more, let me bring in Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief of Salon.com.

Have you ever seen this?  Will this have any impact, what we‘re talking about, Joan?

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, SALON.COM:  I think it will, Ed.  I think, you know, you and I talked about this last week.

We‘re a little bit late in organizing, but it is happening and people are speaking out.  And I think E.J. makes a very good point, that Obama started negotiating with himself in public, because the Republicans are not negotiating with him.  They‘ve said they‘re going to walk away from pretty much anything.  So, the question is, can we have an effect in time to make a difference?

Now, the conventional wisdom in Washington—and I don‘t live there, I‘m in San Francisco—is that there‘s not a single liberal or progressive Democrat who will lose his or her seat for voting against the public option, whereas there are people, conservative Democrats, who would lose seats because of it.  If the liberal base can make that equation change, then I think politics will change.

But you and I both know, this is not happening because heartland American people are scared of the public option.  This is happening because the insurance industry and the pharmaceutical industry are scared of the public option.  And they have put so much money into the Democratic Party.

SCHULTZ:  But Joan, I also think it‘s happening, though, because a lot of progressives are starting to figure out they‘re weak in Washington.  The people that we elected and sent there, they‘re kowtowing to the special interests, and now they‘re afraid to say, well, wait a minute, we can‘t have the government involved here.  We‘re really not ready to go that far. 

We‘re getting double talk from what we got before, back in November, to what‘s being told these folks right now.  And so now you have got the line drawn in the sand by Democratic leaders in the heartland that are saying, look, what message don‘t you get here? 

Let me ask you this.  How should Obama play with this information going back to September, knowing that he really does have the people with him? 

WALSH:  I think he really needs to come out in favor of the public option. 

Now, I‘m not going to tell anyone, and I don‘t think Obama should, ultimately, will I never support a deal?  Right now I don‘t think I would.  Maybe I would, but that‘s not how I learned to play poker. 

I learned from my Uncle Harry.  You don‘t show your hand.  You don‘t let people know how much you‘re willing to bet. 

Who are these people who didn‘t learn how to keep a poker face, how to really negotiate, and how to really passionately fight for what they believe?  All these people saying the spirit of Ted Kennedy would have been compromised.  I don‘t believe that, but I‘m not a medium, I‘m not channeling him today. 

All I‘m saying is he was a fighter.  He would have fought for this until he was absolutely convinced it wouldn‘t happen. 

We‘re not there yet.  And the faster we get there, the more we ensure our own defeat.  So, this compromise for compromise on the part of reasonable, reasonable liberals and progressives is really dispiriting to me. 


Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief, Salon.com. 

Thanks for joining us tonight. 

This is a moral issue, folks.  It is a moral issue, and the Democrats who want to play with the conservatives, you‘re making a big mistake on this.  You‘re not going to get the reform that the people want.  You stand a chance of blowing it.  You better go back to Washington with a clear message. 

Coming up, Dick Cheney admits he doesn‘t care if the CIA interrogators broke the law.  I hope Eric Holder was watching this interview.  What more do you need?  This guy has no respect for the law. 

I‘ll ask Congressman Adam Schiff about that next, right here, what the next step is, on THE ED SHOW.

Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Well, I see the Cheney father/daughter team is back on the airwaves—can‘t go away for a weekend, can you? -- defending the Bush administration CIA torture program.  They don‘t like that Attorney General Eric Holder has decided to investigate possible abuses. 

It makes you wonder what they‘re afraid of.  And it‘s clear “Shooter” and his little girl are just reading from the same playbook time and time again. 


CHENEY:  The Justice Department has already reviewed the inspector general‘s report five years ago. 



LIZ CHENEY, DICK CHENEY‘S DAUGHTER:  This was looked at for five years by career prosecutors.  They decided not to prosecute. 



R. CHENEY:  It‘s clearly a political move.  I mean, there‘s no other rationale for why they‘re doing this. 



L. CHENEY:  We are now opening what is clearly a political investigation. 



R. CHENEY:  The enhanced interrogation techniques were absolutely essential in saving thousands of American lives. 



L. CHENEY:  The enhanced interrogation program provided information that saved lives. 


SCHULTZ:  Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California. 

Mr. Schiff, great to have you on tonight. 


SCHULTZ:  What‘s your response to some of those sound cuts right there from the Cheney family, which seems to be on the offensive against what the facts are?  What‘s your response? 

SCHIFF:  Well, just when you think the vice president can‘t surprise you anymore, he does again. 

I fully expected that he would defend those who followed these really flawed legal opinions, but of course the vice president goes beyond that and says he doesn‘t care whether people even follow these flawed opinions.  He fully supports people who went beyond it, maybe knowingly went beyond it, and engaged in multiple, multiple use of waterboarding.  So, that is surprising.  That is, I think, quite shocking. 

What I found most interesting, though, Ed, is the way he conflates what the attorney general has decided with being this political decision by the president, because it‘s plain that under the Bush administration, the attorney general was basically, like, Alberto Gonzales, the president‘s lawyer.  He was like the White House counsel.  He did whatever the president wanted. 

And now they have an attorney general who actually has independence from the White House and they don‘t know what to make of it.  They can‘t imagine it could be anything but political, when, in fact, the attorney general I think is doing just what he should, looking at the facts objectively and deciding these merit further review and investigation. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, I want you to respond to this comment in the interview where Cheney talks about the interrogations and what they produced.  Here it is. 


R. CHENEY:  Those interrogations were involved in the arrest of nearly all of the al Qaeda members that we were able to bring to justice.  I think they were directly responsible for the fact that for eight years, we had no further mass casualty attacks against the United States.  It was good policy, it was properly carried out.  It worked very, very well. 

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS:  So, even these cases where they went beyond the specific legal authorization, you‘re OK with it? 

R. CHENEY:  I am. 


SCHULTZ:  He says it was properly carried out.  What does that mean? 

And do you believe it? 

SCHIFF:  Well, of course I don‘t believe it, because, in fact, when you look at the Office of the Inspector General report, it says they were not properly carried out.  They didn‘t follow even these flawed legal directives. 

What I think is so revealing about this...

SCHULTZ:  So, what do you make of—Congressman, if they weren‘t probably carried out, then what do you make of Cheney rearing his ugly head time and time again?  Any time this story comes up, he‘s right there. 

What‘s he doing?  What‘s his strategy, in your opinion? 

SCHIFF:  Well, I mean, he is clearly the defender in chief of the Bush administration.  And what I think is so revealing about this is it puts in context all the statements that he made during the Bush president say, all the claims he made, because when you see the claims he‘s making now based on the report, which is now public, you see what the former vice president is saying is completely at odds with what the intelligence communities are telling him. 

So, that tells us that, during the administration, he was doing exactly the same thing he‘s doing now, which is playing fast and loose with the intelligence he‘s being given.  So, not surprising, quite appalling. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, good to have you on tonight.  Thanks so much. 

Appreciate your time. 

SCHIFF:  You bet.

SCHULTZ:  Adam Schiff from California here on THE ED SHOW.

Next up on THE ED SHOW, “Psycho Talk.”  Michele Bachmann, she‘s back, and crazier than ever.  Her latest dandy on health care, you won‘t want to miss it. 

It‘s next in “Psycho Talk” on THE ED SHOW.


SCHULTZ:  Our crew is losing count of the number here.  It‘s “Psycho Talk” again tonight, and she‘s back.  That‘s right, Michele Bachmann at a town hall last week.  The congresswoman from Minnesota spouted a tired old line that has been disproved over and over. 


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA:  Let‘s not destroy what truly is the greatest health care system the world has ever known. 


SCHULTZ:  You know, if you and I were in the Congress, we might feel that way.

But I‘m sorry, Congresswoman, a health care system where almost 50 million people are uninsured and costs are going through the roof, out of control, is not the greatest in the world.  A more accurate statement would have been, let‘s not let our health care system destroy our economy.  How about that one for size? 

Now, if we don‘t get the health care reform that we need, the Commonwealth Fund projects that insurance premiums will double over the next 10 years.  Small businesses are feeling it right now, and they‘ll feel it the most.  On average, they pay 18 percent more for health care per worker than larger firms do. 

And for those who are arguing that a public option is too expensive, listen to this.  Right now, health care costs are 18 percent of our gross domestic product. 

And President Obama‘s Council of Economic Advisers says that if nothing changes, then by 2040, that will be at 34 percent.  We can‘t afford not to reform health care.

So, Michele Bachmann, our health care system is destroying our economy, in case you didn‘t notice it.  How can that be the greatest health care system in the world and the best that we have ever seen? 

No, no, no.  That‘s just “Psycho Talk,” Michele. 

All right.  And also, they are keeping it in the family.  “Shooter” and his daughter join forces again to come out of the bunker to defend the indefensible. 

Since when did his daughter become such a credible force on this? 

A former CIA officer and a man who worked for Cheney square off next on THE ED SHOW, right here on MSNBC.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Dick Cheney has been on the defense since he left office.  Over the weekend, he railed against the Justice Department‘s pending investigation of CIA torture programs.  Shooter said that he‘s proud of what they did. 

For more, let me bring in former CIA officer Jack Rice and former special assistant to President George W. Bush Ron Christie.  Ron, we‘ll start with you tonight.  What is the strategy here?  Why is the former vice president constantly coming out?  Any morsel of information that comes out, he deems it important for him to come out and fight back.  Why is he doing that if he has the truth on his side? 

RON CHRISTIE, FMR. BUSH ADVISER:  Well, I‘ll let the former vice president speak for himself, Ed.  But my opinion is here that a lot of the actions that we‘ve seen from the inception of the Obama administration, the former vice president has questions whether those activities and whether those actions have made the country safer. 

As an American citizen, and now as a private citizen, he‘s free to go on the airwaves, just like me and you, and express his view. 

In this particular case, however, I think what the attorney general, Eric Holder, has done is a disgraceful act.  You have had an inspector general report that was out since 2004, where it found that there was an individual who was a CIA contractor who acted improperly, and he was put in prison. 

Why are we relitigating this?  Why are we looking at this, again, Ed? 

I think it‘s politics, rather than trying to make this country safer. 

SCHULTZ:  Jack Rice, your response to that tonight, and then I‘ll respond.  What do you think? 

JACK RICE, FMR. CIA AGENT:  I totally disagree.  Let‘s face it, this is a pre-release book party.  All this guy is doing is trying to sell books.  The fact is is that torture does not work.  That‘s—Number two, it‘s immoral and it‘s illegal.  If we decided that the Geneva Conventions are OK, that they‘re not just quaint, then we should actually stand by them. 

By the way, if we listen to what it is that Dick Cheney said, Dick Cheney said, you know what, even for the guys who went beyond the letter of the law, according to the Justice Department at the time, he‘s OK with that, too.  Apparently there is no line that this guy isn‘t willing to cross, despite the fact that it doesn‘t work. 

It‘s an outrage and it should have never happened in the first place. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, we had White House reaction today.  This is Robert Gibbs on what Cheney had to say about this. 


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  This is the same song and dance we‘ve heard since literally the first day of our administration.  I‘m not entirely sure that Dick Cheney‘s predictions on foreign policy have borne a whole lot of fruit over the last eight years, in a way that have been either positive or, best of my recollection, very correct. 


SCHULTZ:  Ron, I don‘t understand, why wouldn‘t you support any kind of investigation, number one, if Cheney is correct, and number two, if the facts are on your side?  Wouldn‘t the Obama administration be making fools of themselves if they go down the wrong road on this and it backfires?  If it is some kind of political ploy?  I‘ll play into your theory that you think it‘s politics.  If you have the facts on your side, what‘s the harm? 

CHRISTIE:  Ed, I do have the facts on my side.  We don‘t need to relitigate it.  Let‘s go all the way back to 2004.  There was a series of career individuals at the Justice Department, from the eastern district of Virginia, who looked into the allegations we‘re discussing tonight.  These people, not political people, but career folks at the Department of Justice, declined to litigate, because they said there was not sufficient evidence to move forward with an investigation. 

So now you have the attorney general of the United States, after the president of the United States said we should move forward, we shouldn‘t look back, we don‘t need to investigate this any further—now the attorney general wants to decide to relitigate this, Ed?  If you‘re going to have integrity in the Justice Department, and you‘re going to have career officials who decline to prosecute or move forward, what‘s the point, other than trying to embarrass the Bush administration?  That‘s my point. 

SCHULTZ:  Jack, go ahead. 

RICE:  Come on, let‘s face it; if we‘re talking about integrity in the Justice Department, it was the Bush administration that decided to turn it into its own political arm.  If this is supposed to be a truly independent investigation, let‘s look at what Gonzalez did.  Let‘s take a look at what John Yoo did.  Let‘s take a look at some of the conclusions that were made here that were completely outrageous. 

How many times has the U.S. Supreme Court shot these guys down?  Now we look back and say, oh, all of this has been investigated.  I haven‘t seen a legitimate investigation yet. 

The worst part now, Ed, is what we‘re seeing is we‘re saying, we‘re going to go after this narrow group of people who may have outstepped the law, itself, not even the guys who were the architects of it.  There are a lot of people out there now, including CIA people, who are saying, let‘s take a look at the people who drove this in the first place, not the guys in the field only. 

CHRISTIE:  Jack, let me say this: if you want to have that same zeal and same fire in the belly about investigations, why don‘t we look at the individuals who leaked the information to the “New York Times” that disclosed how, in fact, we were interrogating people?  If you want to have that same level of outrage, why don‘t we talk about the people who leaked classified information?  You, as a former CIA officer, should know classified information is classified because it‘s in the best interest of the country.  The national security interests is that it remain closed and not disclosed. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘ll give you a quick response to that, Jack.  Go ahead. 

RICE:  In the end, let‘s take a look past Scooter Libby and wonder what was -- 

CHRISTIE:  We‘re not talking about Scooter Libby.

RICE:  If you want transparency—look, we saw that Dick Cheney sat in some underground bunker for eight years and never said a word.  Now, all of a sudden, because he‘s pushing a book, he can‘t shut his mouth? 

SCHULTZ:  Gentlemen, here‘s what I found offensive.  I have another sound cut here I want to play.  I want to remind the American people that we were hit on Cheney‘s watch.  We were hit big-time on Cheney‘s watch, not on Obama‘s watch.  It was on Cheney‘s watch.  This idea that they kept the country safe—how many billions of dollars did you and I as taxpayers throw into security that were never there before?  All this guy had to do was read his presidential daily briefing on August 6th, 2001 and pay attention. 

That‘s a fact, Ron. 


SCHULTZ:  Here‘s the sound bite from that interview.  Here it. 


CHENEY:  The other thing that offends the hell out of me, frankly, Chris, is we had a track record now of eight years of defending the nation against any further mass casualty attacks from al Qaeda.  The approach of the Obama administration should be to come to those people who were involved in that policy and say, how did you do it?  What were the keys to keeping the country safe over that period of time? 


SCHULTZ:  You know, Ron Christie, I‘ll give you conservatives some credit.  You act as if nothing happened.  You act as if you handled the information given to you by Richard Clarke.  I mean, do you understand what happened?  September 11, it was on your watch. 

CHRISTIE:  Do you want to go there with me, Ed? 


CHRISTIE:  Let‘s talk about the Clinton administration.  Let‘s talk about the Clinton Justice Department that viewed acts of terrorism, the first World Trade Center bombings, the—

SCHULTZ:  Excuse me, on American soil—the people hit during the Clinton administration, they ended up getting prosecuted and those people that hit New York back in ‘93 -- those folks are behind bars.  The point is this—

CHRISTIE:  We had the opportunity to go after Osama bin Laden.  The Clinton administration refused to do so. 

SCHULTZ:  Are you trying to tell us the Bush administration did a good job protecting the country? 

CHRISTIE:  Yes, Ed.  The fact of the matter is—

SCHULTZ:  End of the discussion.  You said yes. 

CHRISTIE:  The fact of the matter is the Clinton administration had the opportunity to take out Osama bin Laden.  They didn‘t. 


SCHULTZ:  Ron, wait a minute.  Wait a minute now.  Do you think the Bush administration was given enough information before the attacks that they should have acted differently? 

CHRISTIE:  Ed, neither you nor I had the opportunity to read the classified version of the presidential daily brief.  I can‘t answer the question any more than you can.  All I know is the Bush administration acted in the best interest of the American people, and kept this country safe. 

SCHULTZ:  Good to have you on, Ron.  I appreciate your time.  Thank you, Jack Rice.  Thanks for being here tonight. 

Coming up, the Democrats holding the line on a public option.  It‘s what the people want.  Nancy, I‘m counting on you to get this done in the House.  That‘s next on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us.  It‘s in my playbook.


SCHULTZ:  In my play book tonight, it‘s preseason.  Who am I going to pick when we get back to Washington?  Which Democratic senator do I want on my team?  The passing of Senator Ted Kennedy leaves, I think, a major void.  And now we‘re going into September, which is going to be one of the biggest fights this country has ever had. 

This is a moral issue.  I warned the conservative Democrats.  You need to vote your conscience on this.  Too many Americans are going to be hurt if we don‘t get this right.  And I don‘t want a co-op.  If I‘m the head coach, I‘m cutting anybody working on the co-op, OK? 

I‘m a single-payer guy.  I wish they‘d go down that road.  But a public option, if we can get the pre-existing condition removed, I‘d draft that person in a second.  Who‘s going to step to the Senate floor with the passion?  Who‘s going to step to the Senate floor and say, when will the greed stop in the insurance industries? 

Who‘s that Democrat?  I can‘t wait for September.  I can‘t wait until they come back to work.  Let‘s go to Bill Press and Sam Stein, tonight, and also Ron Christie is back with us again.  Nationally syndicated radio talk show host Bill Press. 

Bill, who is going to be that person in the 11h hour to stand up on the Senate floor and say, when is the greed going to stop, and capture the attention of the American people, and show the Democrats want to get this done?  Who is that Democrat? 

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  First of all, Ed, I think it‘s got to be Barack Obama.  He‘s not in the Senate, but he‘s got to stand up and say, look, we‘ve had enough dicking around.  We‘ve had enough talk.  Now is the time for action.  It‘s got to be a health care reform plan that covers everybody.  No pre-existing condition and a strong public plan option.  That‘s what I want. 

I think if he says that, Ed, you‘ll see some Democrats stand up.  Chuck Schumer is one of them.  Chris Dodd is another one.  They‘re two leaders.  Start with them. 

SCHULTZ:  Ron Christie, tell us about the September stall.  How are we supposed to, as liberals, take the Republicans serious when here‘s Mr.  Inhofe telling the American people I‘m not even going to read the bill?  You have Mr. Grassley saying there‘s not going to be any bipartisan agreement if there‘s any kind of government option or government-run program?  How is this going to play out in September, Ron?  What‘s your prediction? 

CHRISTIE:  Actually, Ed, I think Bill is absolutely right.  I think the person who has to step up to the plate here, if there‘s going to be any sort of health care reform, has to be President Obama.  I think the president can come back to Washington tomorrow and sit down in a very destructive, a very bipartisan manner.  You see three members of the Republican party and the three members of the Democratic party in the Senate sitting down trying to come up with a deal. 

I don‘t think it‘s in the public‘s best interest to have a deal rammed through, that‘s done specifically and only on a party line.  I think that‘s the wrong thing.  I think that‘s what the American people say, that‘s why these people in Washington don‘t get it.  Bottom line is, got to be bipartisan.  President Obama has to set the marker down for people to follow. 

SCHULTZ:  Sam, how can it be bipartisan when you have people say they won‘t even read the bill?  Who‘s going to be bipartisan? 

SAM STEIN, “THE HUFFINGTON POST”:  The answer to that is that it won‘t be bipartisan.  I think you‘re seeing this week, next week and the week after that will be the death of bipartisanship on health care reform.  The White House signaled it today when they slapped down Senator Enzi for his comments he made over the weekend, essentially dismissing the notion it will be a bipartisan bill. 

I think the White House had enough.  Now you‘re seeing progressives go after Chuck Grassley, not because they want to exert a political price for him opposing the president, but because they want to show the way for Democrats to understand that he‘s not negotiating in good faith.  This is not someone that you‘re going to get a good health care bill from. 

They‘re trying to lead the charge.  Expect the White House and others to follow suit.  I think you‘ll see the death of a bipartisan health care idea in the weeks ahead. 

SCHULTZ:  Let me stay with you, Sam Stein.  What do you make of some of these Democrats out there who are saying, you know what, we‘re going to turn on you if you don‘t act properly on public option and deliver what we expect you to deliver?  There are actually Democratic groups out there who are saying, don‘t come home and expect our support again. 

STEIN:  Sure, the unions have said this.  The progressive caucus in the House.  My colleague, Ryan Grim, had a great about how, for the first time in recent memory, the progressive caucus in the House of Representatives is doing what the Blue Dogs traditionally do, which is we have numbers.  We‘re going to rally around an idea.  If you don‘t have this in the legislation, then forget it.  We‘re not going to support it. 

It‘s nice to see progressives do that.  It certainly balances out what the Blue Dogs do on the other side of the ideological spectrum.  It really comes down to who‘s going to blink first, because in the Senate, conservative Democrats aren‘t going to back a public plan.  In the House, they‘re going to not back a bill without a public plan.  

SCHULTZ:  Finally, Bill Press, does the president have to be strong?  I mean, his base is getting vocal right now.  There could be a political backlash if the president doesn‘t remain strong on public option.  Will he waiver?  What do you think? 

PRESS:  Ed, I‘ve got to agree.  Bipartisan is dead.  I‘ll tell you who killed it.  Chuck Grassley and Mike Enzi killed it when they said they don‘t plan to vote for the stinking bill, anyway, even though they spent all this time negotiating.  So we‘ve got to forget them. 

Yes, the president has to come on strong.  I think Bob Dole said it well in the “Washington Post” this morning.  We don‘t need a cheerleader on the sidelines.  We need a platoon leader, who is leading the charge for the public plan option the way he started out.  That will get legislation done. 

SCHULTZ:  All right gentlemen, good to have you with us tonight.  Coming up on THE ED SHOW, I‘m going to have a longer conversation, longer than normal, with New York Senator Chuck Schumer.  I will pose the very same questions to him about leadership in the Senate.  Is bipartisanship dead?  All of that‘s coming up.  Stay with us.  This is THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. 


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Earlier this month, a helicopter and a small plane collided over the Hudson River in Manhattan, and nine people were killed.  It was a horrible accident.  New York senior Senator Chuck Schumer says it‘s bound to happen again if we don‘t get better monitoring in what he calls the wild west airspace. 

Senator Chuck Schumer joining us tonight here on THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. 

Good to have you with us. 

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK:  Nice to be here. 

SCHULTZ:  You are proposing total airspace control.  Is that correct? 

SCHUMER:  That‘s correct. 

SCHULTZ:  Right from the ground all the way through? 

SCHUMER:  Right now, from zero to 1,000 feet, there‘s no regulation.  No one has to file flight plans.  That may work in rural Idaho.  It doesn‘t work in New York City, particularly over the Hudson River, which lots of planes like to go over. 

SCHULTZ:  You want flight plans mandatory? 

SCHUMER:  Flight plans mandatory.  Helicopters should be part of the FAA regulation scheme.  They‘re not right now.  And you need to do a lot of things.  I mean, under President Bush, the FAA was cut to smithereens.  The head of the FAA was a political appointee, basically a hack.  OMB ran the show. 

So we don‘t have enough controllers in the Teterboro tower.  There are many things that should be done.  And most of all, if you got this modern GPS system, which uses satellites, it would be much easier to monitor everything.  It was developed in 2001 and France bought it, Italy bought it, Germany bought it, China, Japan, Tibet.  We didn‘t because OMB said it was too expensive.  It‘s absurd and we‘ve got to buy it.

SCHULTZ:  I‘ve done a lot of work with the air traffic controllers.  They talk about their antiquated equipment.  But they also talk about, senator, the attack on labor the last eight years, how they have run a lot of experienced controllers out of jobs.  Work rules have changed.  This obviously is too much—

SCHUMER:  The woman who ran the show was just crazy.  I said to the business groups—business groups I said, you would never run a business like this.  You wouldn‘t so alienate your workers that nothing was functioning, and you couldn‘t sell your product. 

SCHULTZ:  What‘s going to happen?  I mean, how long would it take to implement new standards?  The ones that—man power. 

SCHUMER:  That‘s easy.  They could actually require the filling of flight plans and stuff like that within six months.  The GPS system and the new equipment they need takes a little longer.  Every day waited is a day that we‘re not as safe as we should be. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, let‘s switch gears to health care. 

SCHUMER:  You‘ve got it. 

SCHULTZ:  Who is going to lead the charge for the Democrats?  Who‘s going to stand up and hold the Republican obstructionists accountable on the Senate floor?  How much determination is there from the Democratic side? 

SCHUMER:  Oh, I think there‘s real determination from the Democratic side, Ed, in this sense: I think most Democrats, liberal, moderate, even conservative, realize to go home with no bill is the worst thing of all.  Now there‘s a growing realization.  You saw today what Mr. Gibbs said about Enzi.  Chuck Grassley‘s letter to all of his fund-raisers, just attacking the Democrats—that the idea of having Grassley and Enzi negotiate in good faith is pretty much gone. 

SCHULTZ:  Have you given up on a bipartisan effort? 

SCHUMER:  Well, I was one who said we ought to look seriously at reconciliation.  I prefer a bipartisan effort, all things being equal.  So would everybody.  I don‘t think it‘s likely to happen now.  Olympia Snowe is a different—you know, a different type of actor in this than Enzi and Grassley. 

SCHULTZ:  You might get some Republican votes? 

SCHUMER:  Very few.  Maybe on different issues you‘ll get different ones.  We basically, in my view—the way we‘re going to get health care reform is by relying on our Democratic caucus to carry the ball, because the Republican leadership for sure, both McConnell in the Senate, Boehner in the House, and most—and the Republican base says to every Republican, no bill or we‘re going to get really upset with you. 

SCHULTZ:  Some of the lives—

SCHUMER:  They listen. 

SCHULTZ:  And some of the lies—let‘s go to this sound cut of Senator Enzi, what he said in his Republican weekly response.  Here it is. 


SEN. MIKE ENZI ®, WYOMING:  These bills also raid Medicare.  This will result in cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from the elderly to create new government programs.  This intrusion of a Washington bureaucrat in the relationship between a doctor and patient is not the kind of reform Americans are seeking. 


SCHULTZ:  Cutting hundreds of billions of dollars.  Is that the truth? 

SCHUMER:  No, it‘s not at all.  We‘re going to keep the Medicare system.  In fact, when the fellow party members of Senator Enzi attack a government plan, the answer is, oh, you don‘t like Medicare?  You really talk to the Republican base, a lot of them don‘t like Medicare.  They‘d like to get rid of it.  They think it was a mistake. 

So Mike Enzi there is defending Medicare.  Most of his party says anything the government does is a bad thing, including Medicare. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  But he says that the Democrats are going to cut billions of dollars out of the Medicare program, which senior citizens are hearing the reimbursement isn‘t going to be there; I‘m not going to get the kind of coverage I have normally gotten.  Is that going to happen? 

SCHUMER:  No, it is not going to happen. 

SCHULTZ:  What about this constant pounding of how there‘s going to be a government agent between you and your doctor?  What‘s your best play against some rhetoric that obviously some Americans are believing? 

SCHUMER:  I think the problem with our sort of messaging is twofold.  One, the negatives should have been hit back much harder.  For about a month, this idea of the death panel—

SCHULTZ:  The death panel. 

SCHUMER:  -- of the illegal immigrants getting Medicare. 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s all false. 

SCHUMER:  All that, all false.  Of abortion—a doctor being forced to do an abortion, all false.  You have to hit those back.  But then you have to explain to people why they‘re doing it.  Here‘s what I do: I say, look, in seven years, Medicare is going to run out of money.  If you‘re a senior citizen, you won‘t have Medicare.  We have to certainly make sure that Medicare continues to exist.  And you can‘t do that by the status quo. 

Then I say, if you have a job and you like the health insurance your employer provides you, there‘s all too good a chance he‘s going to call you in and say, Ed, you‘ve been a great worker.  I love you here.  I want you to stay here.  But I can no longer cover your health insurance because the cost doubles over every seven years. 

We have to show people that the reason we are doing reform is not just to cover new people.  That‘s an admirable goal. 

SCHULTZ:  To save what we have.  Does the co-op have any merit at all? 

Would you sign on—

SCHUMER:  No.  The co-op—look, the co-op, as conceived by Chuck Grassley, is 100 farmers getting together and forming a co-op, and then we solve the problem.  I‘ve always said I think the co-op is dead.  But I‘ve always said, even when it had a little life, it needs to do—anything that comes in needs to do three things, cover everybody—not cover everybody, but Have everybody available for it, that they can purchase it.  Start on day one.  And be big enough, strong enough, tough enough to go against both the big insurance companies and the big suppliers. 

The co-op, as envisioned by Chuck Grassley, doesn‘t come close to that, so it is dead. 

SCHULTZ:  You‘re all about a public plan. 


SCHULTZ:  You‘re all about pre-existing conditions being gone. 


SCHULTZ:  Which the insurance industry is going to—

SCHUMER:  By the way, on the public plan, here‘s what I say to my constituents in New York, and I commend it to my colleagues.  I say, we have private colleges and public colleges in New York.  You‘re not forced to send your kids to either one.  You have a choice.  We‘re better off that we have both.  Each is stronger because we have the other.  And it gives you a choice.  Same thing with public option. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, great to have you on tonight.  I appreciate your work.  Keep up the fight.  Thank you so much. 

SCHUMER:  Thanks.

SCHULTZ:  Earlier in the show, I asked you what you thought; should Democrats support a final bill without a public option?  Nine thousand of you responded; 13 percent say yes, 87 percent of you say no.  I love that. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more information on THE ED SHOW, go to Ed.MSNBC.com.  “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is next, right here on the place for politics, MSNBC.



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