updated 11/25/2009 10:49:01 AM ET 2009-11-25T15:49:01

Guests: Adam Smith, Robert Greenwald, Bill Press, Bernie Sanders, Todd Webster, John Feehery, Rep.Gregory Meeks, Larry Pratt, A.B. Stoddard, Joan Walsh

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  Good evening, Americans.  Welcome to THE ED SHOW tonight from New York.

One week from tonight, the president of the United States is going to lay out his strategy for Afghanistan.  McClatchy Newspapers reporting today that the president will add—here‘s the number -- 34,000 additional troops over the next year. 

President Obama gave a preview to this decision this afternoon. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  After eight years, some of those years in which we did not have, I think, either the resources or the strategy to get the job done, it is my intention to finish the job. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Finish the job. 

Make no mistake, this is just one more mess that President Obama has to mop up after the Bush administration.  Bush was the president who drained resources from Afghanistan so we could go invade Iraq on that perfect intelligence.  Bush never got bin Laden, dead or alive.  Bush never established a functional government over there in Afghanistan.  And Bush never eliminated the Taliban. 

Thanks a lot. 

So let‘s get out of magic wand and wave it now, because here comes President Obama, and he‘s just expected to solve all of these problems in Afghanistan.  Well, it isn‘t going to be easy. 

The country is split right down the middle when it comes to a troop increase.  In the latest CNN poll, 50 percent support an increase, 49 percent are against it.  So, no matter what President Obama does, half the country‘s going to be badmouthing him. 

President Obama has one hell of an opportunity right now to do this the correct way.  He needs to lay it out, give clear objectives.  The president needs to be crystal clear when it comes to a strategy, a timetable, a line in the sand, a drop-dead date, whatever you want to call it. 

He promised to do that today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  It is in our strategic interest, in our national security interest to make sure that al Qaeda and its extremist allies cannot operate effectively in those areas.  We are going to dismantle and degrade their capabilities and ultimately dismantle and destroy their networks.  I feel very confident that when the American people hear a clear rationale for what we‘re doing there and how we intend to achieve our goals, that they will be supportive. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  OK.  That might be a pipe dream for the left. 

No matter how the president lays this out next Tuesday night, there is one thing that he‘s got to be crystal clear on, and that is, this is going to cost billions of dollars.  I mean, billions of dollars. 

Now, let me get my wallet out on this thing tonight, just to play along with this here, because this is what it‘s all about.  It‘s about the money; right? 

Well, come on, you righties.  You love war out there, don‘t you?  I mean, heck, the unfunded mandates.  You know, Iraq and Afghanistan were never in the Bush budget until the Democrats got a hold of it. 

So what do you say, 20 bucks a week?  How about $40?  What do you say we pay $40 a week more for the war in Afghanistan? 

Let‘s see.  If we could do this, get $40 a week out of any—or should we say, 100 million Americans, that would raise $200 billion.  Heck, the president‘s only going to be asking for $40 billion. 

We‘d have another $160 billion to do what?  Health care. 

Congress needs to decide if they‘re willing to dish out an additional billion dollars to get this done.  President Obama has to do something that Bush never did, and that is, ask the American people to sacrifice. 

The top two percent has been living high off the hog for the last eight years.  It‘s time that, hey, let‘s all step up and take one for the team. 

Bush and Cheney dithered away for eight years hundreds of billions of dollars with no plan in Afghanistan.  They didn‘t get the job done.  And now Obama‘s got to mop it up and he‘s going to have to ask us to pay for it; right?  Or the Congress is going to have to do it. 

Now, if you righties love war so much, time to pay the price.  Come on.  Pony up. 

But, you see, you want President Obama to fail, don‘t you? 

That‘s right.  That‘s what the right wants.  They badmouth him all the time. 

Here‘s what they want to do.  This was all a part of the neocon agenda, to blow up the federal budget deficit to the point of no return, cut every especial program this country‘s ever had—and the way you do that is you rope the new president into a war because we can‘t cut and run. 

Mr. President, you have to do this the correct way.  It‘s your call. 

The American people and the world are starving for realistic leadership. 

I guess you could say, Mr. President, that this is your 3:00 a.m.  wakeup call.  It‘s a tough call.  Your presidency could be riding on it. 

Folks, get your cell phones out tonight.  I want to know what you think.  It‘s about taxes. 

Are you willing to pay higher taxes to fund the war?  Are you willing to pay more, that maybe $20 or $40 a week more?  Are you willing to pay more to do the deal in Afghanistan? 

Text “A” for yes, “B” for no to 622639.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show.  I‘m anxious to see what the result is.

Joining me now is Washington Congressman Adam Smith, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. 

And we are glad you‘re here tonight, Congressman, because you have taken a couple of trips over to Afghanistan. 

From what you hear so far, could you support a troop increase to the tune of 34,000, 35,000 and $35 billion a year? 

REP. ADAM SMITH (D), WASHINGTON:  Well, first of all, Ed, I listened to your intro and I agree completely with everything you said about the hard position that President Obama has been put in after eight years of not having a clear plan and strategy in Afghanistan.  And I also completely agree that we ought to pay for it. 

We should have paid for it in the first place, and we certainly should now.  We have heard from conservatives all over the place about how...

SCHULTZ:  So you would support it? 

SMITH:  Absolutely.  Well, sorry, I would support paying for it. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.

SMITH:  The troop increase depends on what else is part of it.  What is the strategy?  What is the plan?  Because the one thing we know, we‘ve relied too much on the central government. 

The Karzai government has been corrupt and inefficient.  What‘s our plan for changing that?  Who are we going to work with on the local level?  What are we going to do... 

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, respectfully, we have been asking these same questions.  We are now in year number nine. 

SMITH:  Oh, absolutely. 

SCHULTZ:  What is 35,000 more troops going to do to change or answer any of the questions you just posed?  Which are very legitimate, obviously. 

But, look, we‘re either in or we‘re out of Iraq.  We‘re either going to resource this or we‘re not. 

Is it worth American lives, is it worth American treasure, in your opinion? 

SMITH:  Afghanistan, not Iraq. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes. 

SMITH:  But, first of all, yes, I believe there is a national security interest.  I think the president explained it as crisply and clearly as he could.  In the clip that you showed about the threat we face from al Qaeda and the Taliban, we have a national security interest in making sure the al Qaeda and the Taliban do not become resurgent in Afghanistan. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, that means we‘re going to be there forever. 

SMITH:  And there‘s a distinct risk that they will.

No.

SCHULTZ:  I mean, if this is a religious cultural war, and they want to kill us, how is this war going to end? 

SMITH:  No, no, no.  It‘s going to end if we have an Afghan government and an Afghan people that are able to stop the Taliban and al Qaeda. 

SCHULTZ:  So nation building? 

SMITH:  No.  No.  I don‘t think it is a matter of building up a nation. 

I think it is a matter of training troops and offering a support system in there that gets them to the point where they can do it.  I mean, Pakistan right now is fighting back against the Taliban.  We don‘t have 65,000 troops or even 1,000 troops in Pakistan.  That‘s a government that‘s able to fight back despite the fact that al Qaeda and the Taliban are there. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, that‘s an interesting point.  So, our existence in Afghanistan depends on how effective the Pakistani army is against al Qaeda? 

SMITH:  No—Ed, that‘s not what I said. 

SCHULTZ:  I mean, this is—well, wait a minute. 

SMITH:  You‘ve asked about seven or eight questions.  I really want to try to answer them. 

What it depends on in Afghanistan is having an Afghan population.  All I‘m saying is that Pakistan proves that it is possible to have a government that‘s willing to resist this force without a huge U.S. troop presence. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  All right.

SMITH:  That‘s what we need to get to. 

And on the troop question, you know, I don‘t know right now whether or not we need 35,000 more troops. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.

SMITH:  The president‘s got to make his case and tell us what the plan is.  We need absolutely, unquestionably a different strategy.  That is what is, I think, completely clear.  And that‘s what the president is giving us. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, the different strategy is going to be exactly what the generals want.  He‘s just 6,000, 5,000 short of what was requested over there. 

Congressman, good to have you with us tonight. 

SMITH:  Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  The point here is that there‘s probably going to be some Democratic support for the president if he adds troops over there, which I personally don‘t get. 

Thank you so much.

For more, let me bring in Robert Greenwald.  He‘s the director of “Rethink Afghanistan,” who has also been to Afghanistan. 

Robert, where are the Afghan people in this?  Do they want us there? 

ROBERT GREENWALD, RETHINK AFGHANISTAN:  No.  There‘s significant evidence they don‘t want us there. 

The talk that we‘re going over there for their security is nonsense. 

And the congressman should well know the recent reporting by Gareth Porter.  One in every four Afghans are leaving the army after and during the training. 

So, how are we ever going to have an army to turn over to, let alone this corrupt government that is despised throughout the country? 

SCHULTZ:  How do we keep, you know, that portion of the world, Afghanistan, from being a threat to the United States? 

GREENWALD:  Well, Afghanistan‘s the third poorest country in the world.  I don‘t see how they‘re a threat. 

What we‘re doing is we‘re taking sides in a civil war.  And do you want to spend $1 million a troop to take sides in a civil war? 

SCHULTZ:  Well, I don‘t want training camps in Afghanistan by al Qaeda, that‘s for sure. 

GREENWALD:  The training camps aren‘t there.  The U.S. has said there are less than 100 al Qaeda in Afghanistan. 

Do we need to occupy an entire country for 100 bad guys?  I don‘t think so.  There‘s a lot of other ways to deal with it.

This is old-fashioned, ignorant thinking that is making us less secure and actually hurting our country at home, Ed.  I mean, can you imagine the jobs that could be provided, the homes that could be saved, and the health care for this kind of money?

SCHULTZ:  Well, it does kind of play into the old Bush strategy, you‘ve got to fight them over there so we don‘t fight them over here.  I mean, this is—you add 35,000 troops and another $40 billion, I mean, this is Bush all over again.  There‘s no end to this.

And I don‘t know how President Obama is going to sell this to his base.   And the righties are going to use it against him, saying, of course, he‘s never tough enough, he‘s never strong enough, he can‘t win.  So this is a call, I think, that could be a pivotal moment in his presidency.

I know health care‘s important, obviously, and the economy.  But, I mean, to a lot of Americans, this looks like more of the same.  Or am I wrong on that?

GREENWALD:  No, I think you‘re absolutely right.  And I think it is—it‘s a critical moment.

Look, we know what happens to administrations that go to war.  It affects their hopes, it affects their dreams, it affects the domestic plans, it affects our moral standing.  And most fundamentally, Ed, this is not a war that‘s going to make us safer.  There are security interests, but the idea of occupying this country with hundreds of thousands of Americans, all the death, it doesn‘t make sense.

SCHULTZ:  Yes.

Mr. Greenwald, great to have you with us tonight.

GREENWALD:  Thanks.

SCHULTZ:  Thanks so much.

Now, how is the president going to sell this to his base?  How is he going to communicate the mission to the American people?  He just can‘t go out and hold a press conference and say, well, that‘s it, got that off the table, now let‘s go.

Radio talk show host Bill Press with us tonight here on THE ED SHOW.

The base is going to be shaking on this one, Bill.  I don‘t care how you slice it.  And you talk to them every day. 

How will this play out? 

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  You know what, Ed?  We‘re two days from Thanksgiving, but I don‘t even think Barack Obama, with all of his oratorical skills, can sell this turkey.  I really don‘t. 

I mean, look, the American people, they rally behind the president any time we go to war, right?  But this is different. 

First of all, there‘s no perceived threat among the American people from Afghanistan.  Robert Greenwald is right.  And secondly, the president has got to rally people behind a war that he‘s not starting, that George Bush started eight years ago. 

SCHULTZ:  So, to fix it is to do the same thing Bush was doing? 

PRESS:  But he has got to say, Ed, this war is not only worth continuing, it‘s worth expanding, and that we‘re going to finish the job.  Most people don‘t know what the hell the job is in Afghanistan. 

SCHULTZ:  Big political gamble here, Bill?  What do you think? 

PRESS:  Absolutely.  I think there‘s only one way out, Ed.

Maybe this will work, if the president says there‘s a fixed state.  You give me—we‘ll give them 35,000 troops, in 12 months we‘re home, or 24 months we‘re home, I promise you, maybe that would work.  But, boy, I‘ve got to tell you, I think this is a loser for Obama.  He ought to go back—the job he ought to be doing is American jobs, not Afghanistan. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, if the president goes down this road of adding more troops and trying to mop up what Bush did, if he puts a date to it, he‘s going to get criticized by the Republicans on that.  If he draws down the troops after the increase, he‘s going to be accused of cutting and running and not finishing the job. 

I mean, sooner or later we have to be Americans about this.  Forget the party stuff of it. 

Do the American people really believe that if we send 35,000 more troops and $40 billion in a conflict that characteristically, over the years, ask the Russians, there‘s no end to it --  I mean, I don‘t know how Obama is going to sell this and lead the country. 

PRESS:  Ed, look, I agree with you.  And there‘s something else here let‘s put on the table.

This is a country that has never had a central government.  And this idea that we‘re going to be there and with our presence, we‘re going to train people, and we‘re going to give them this big democracy that can take care of itself, it just ain‘t going to happen.  I don‘t think the American people don‘t believe it. 

They‘re tired of this war.  They don‘t see the need to be there. 

SCHULTZ:  Bill Press, if I don‘t see you before Thanksgiving, God bless you and thanks for being on our program so much.  We love to get your take.  You eat a lot of turkey.  You come back 10 pounds heavier, all right? 

PRESS:  Have a good one, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Good to see you.

PRESS:  All right.  Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  I just think this is just a terrible dilemma for the president.  You know, you‘re damned if you do, damned if you don‘t. 

But I think if you look at the totality of it, you know, we were told that Iraqi oil was going to pay for what happened in Iraq.  Who‘s going to pay for this? 

Conservatives, ask yourself the question tonight.  You run around with these soccer mom vans with all these yellow stickers about how you support the troops.  Are you willing to pay another $20 a week, another $40 a week, to get this deal done? 

Hell no.  You know you‘re not for a tax increase.  Tell the truth. 

All right.  Coming up, my next guest does not mince words or make idle threats when it comes to health care reform and getting it done.  Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, we‘ll get his take in just a moment. 

Plus, “The Drugster” has found a way to relate health care reform to suicide bombings and virgins. 

Oh, you‘ve got to stay around for “Psycho Talk.”  

Stay with us.  We‘re right back on THE ED SHOW.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Joe Lieberman says he‘s going to be stubborn when it comes to filibustering a health care bill with a public option.  “Trader Joe” doesn‘t want, let‘s see, an opt out?  He doesn‘t want an opt in.  He doesn‘t even want a trigger. 

But some Democrats have had enough of Lieberman calling the shots on health care reform.  They say Harry Reid will lose their votes if he caves to Lieberman‘s demands. 

Joining me now is Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. 

Senator, good to have you with us tonight. 

I want you to...

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT:  Good to be with you, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  Thank you, sir. 

I want you to clarify, not that you haven‘t, but just to make sure we‘re on the same page, would you filibuster this bill if it did not have a public option? 

SANDERS:  I would be very, very reluctant to go forward, Ed, with a program, with a policy that provides hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies to the insurance companies without a public option, without strong cost containment.  You‘re just talking about a bailout for the private insurance companies, and that‘s something I can‘t support. 

SCHULTZ:  Do you think that there are other Democratic senators that would stand with you on this? 

SANDERS:  Yes, I do.  And I think what we have—you‘ve got a political problem and you‘ve got a public policy problem. 

The political problem, Ed, is that the vast majority of the American people want to have a choice between a Medicare-type public plan and a private plan.  And second of all, with health care costs soaring, there‘s got to be a mechanism in place to control what private insurance companies want to do, which is to raise rates every single day.  And without a strong public option, I don‘t know how you do that. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.

SANDERS:  But as you indicated—yes—what you‘ve got is a couple of senators who, despite what the president wants, despite what the American people want, despite what the House wants, despite what a majority of the senators want, they‘re saying no.  So we‘re going to need, I think, a Plan B here. 

SCHULTZ:  What would Plan B be if Harry Reid can‘t get some of these conservative Democrats on board?  What do you suggest being Plan B?

SANDERS:  Well, rather than caving in to just a few of the more conservative Democrats, a Plan B would say, OK, look, we don‘t have the 60 votes.  A, either we go through reconciliation or, B, let‘s see what we can agree on. 

What can you agree on?  Insurance reform.  Nobody I know thinks it‘s appropriate for insurance companies to deny care for a pre-existing condition or throwing people off of health care because they were sick in the previous year. 

What we can do is take on the drug companies.  We could start negotiating—and the House bill has this—negotiate prices with the drug companies and fill that so-called doughnut hole in Medicare Part D.

Number three, what we can do is greatly expand Medicaid and strengthen Medicaid.  We can add 15 million more people to the health insurance rolls if we do that. 

We can go forward in terms of primary health care and community health centers.  Sixty million people in this country do not have access to a doctor or dentist or mental health counseling or low-cost prescription drugs. 

We could do all of those things.  That‘s pretty good.  Maybe we could get 60 votes on that without giving huge subsidies to private insurance companies. 

SCHULTZ:  And what do you think the White House play should be at this point with all the tough talking coming from Joe Lieberman and also Blanche Lincoln and Ben Nelson and Mary Landrieu?  What would you expect them to do? 

It would seem to me that they would have to come to the poker game pretty soon now.  The window of opportunity is starting to close here pretty fast. 

SANDERS:  They‘ve got to pony up to the table immediately, and they have to make it clear that either those guys—those more conservatives Democrats—are going to not join a Republican filibuster, or you come up with a Plan B so that the president can, in fact, say, look, we don‘t—we are being boycotted, in essence, by the Republicans.  Let‘s not forget that. 

You have on the Bush—the complete deterioration of health care.  They did nothing.  And they are keeping that trend going now by playing an obstructionist role. 

So we don‘t have any Republican support.  And I think what the president has got to do, either you get 60 votes to say no to Republican filibusters, or we come together on a scaled-down but still strong health care program. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, happy Thanksgiving to you.  And thanks for joining us.  I admire your fight in all of this, and I appreciate you willing to stand out in the Vermont weather tonight to talk to us about this crucial issue. 

SANDERS:  Thank you very much. 

SCHULTZ:  Thanks so much, Bernie.  I appreciate it. 

SANDERS:  OK.

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, “The Drugster” has found a way to compare Democrats who want health care reform to suicide bombers.  This one, you won‘t even believe it.  It‘s a double dose of “Psycho Talk.”  

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, well, we‘ve got “The Drugster.”

You know, I think Rush is feeling a little threatened by some of his right-wing nut “Psycho Talk” competitors, because he‘s really pulling out all the stops. 

On his show he was, of course, ripping the health care bill, but then he started to compare Democrats to suicide bombers in the Congress.  And it just went down hill from there. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  They‘re strapping the bombs on, the bombs of these health care bills.  They‘re going to get, with this bill, if it‘s signed into law, they‘re going to get their 72 virgins. 

They‘re going to get a lifetime supply of Viagra or Cialis.  Their choice.  And they‘re not going to die. 

They‘re going to get the 72 virgins in their offices or in the Capitol wading pool.  Or wherever they want them. 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Was he talking about Senator Vitter there?  No, he‘s a Republican. 

OK.  So, let me get this straight. 

According to Rush, the Democrats are like indestructible suicide bombers who can‘t get enough Viagra?  Or maybe he‘s just mad that the only way he can get a little blue pill fix is by sneaking away to the Dominican Republic with someone else‘s prescription. 

But that convoluted analogy of his is one hard “Psycho Talk” pill to swallow, isn‘t it? 

Coming up, the gun lobby has jumped on the anti-health care bill bandwagon.  A key leader is going to be here to explain why he thinks passing reform will restrict your right to bear arms? 

That‘s coming up in the “Playbook.”

Plus, “Shooter” seems to have inspired an anti-Obama billboard psycho we had on this show last night.  I‘ll outline the vicious cycle of bullet points that started the whole ting with Sarah Palin.  That‘s right. 

You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Got a lot of reaction on this story last night.  I just can‘t get over this billboard  story in Colorado.  I talked to the owner last night on this program.  Seemed like a regular guy.  Although he thinks a little  different.  Could be your neighbor.  He owns a car dealership just 30 miles outside Denver. 

I asked him directly, how did you get to the point where, you know, you go pay for your own billboard and go after the  president of the United States?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  I‘m curious as to how folks like you think in the middle of the  country.  What has Barack Obama done to you?

PHIL WOLF, OWNER OF ANTI-OBAMA BILLBOARD:  Barack Obama personally hasn‘t done anything to me.  But every time there‘s an event, whether it‘s George Bush or Barack Obama or Bill Clinton—it seems like every president takes the failures or the deceptiveness of the first one and pushes it further. 

So I think, for me, what Barack Obama has done for me—it‘s just—it‘s going down the train as far as addressing what the common guy, the little guy, is  all about.  Nobody wants to answer these questions.  I think they think the America people are stupid.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Little confusing there, but whatever.  You see, I don‘t think this guy got there on his own, because a lot of what I heard from the owner of that billboard really comes directly from the leaders of the Republican party. 

So let‘s connect the dots on this.  Now, it was a year ago Sarah Palin, the Republican party‘s chosen vice presidential candidate, tells voters in Colorado, where that billboard is, that Obama pals around with terrorists. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN, FMR. GOVERNOR OF ALASKA:  This is not a man who sees America as you and I see America.  Our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Well, the comment was outrageous and Palin was roundly criticized for it.  Pundits say that Palin went too far with the mainstream folks of America.  She and McCain, of course, got their clocks cleaned in November of 2008. 

Let‘s fast forward to November of 2009.  The Republican party‘s chosen Vice President, Dick Cheney, goes on a radio show yesterday and says this about the president bowing in Japan.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  This is a guy, a president, who would bow, for example, who doesn‘t fully understand or have the same perception of the US role in the world that I think most Americans have. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Obama sees America differently.  Palin and Cheney, same line of attack.  Obama doesn‘t understand America.  He is not like a real American.  Cheney goes on to say this—

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHENEY:  I see President Obama as somebody who bows to foreign leaders and then spends his trips abroad primarily apologizing for US behavior.  I just—I find that very upsetting.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  And here‘s the owner of the anti-Obama billboard saying that exact thing to me last night. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF:  You know, when he runs around the country and apologizes for who I am as an America, that disturbs me, sir. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Well, the level of discourse in this country and the rhetoric is really paralleling that of the 1960s.  It‘s unbelievable what we put our leaders through.  Isn‘t there one team we can sign up for?  How about the American team?

For more, let me bring in our panel tonight, couple of guys I respect. 

Democratic strategist Todd Webster and Republican strategist John Feehery.  Gentlemen, your thoughts, number one, on this billboard, but also the parallel in the rhetoric that goes along with Republican leaders. 

Todd Webster?  It‘s very clear that this guy is spewing out almost verbatim what Republican leaders, who were elected, who were trying to get elected, said on the campaign trail.  Your thoughts? 

TODD WEBSTER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  There‘s no question that the discourse has gotten even more course over the last decade, as Congressional districts become more and more homogeneous.  The reality—I think this strategy, the divisive racial strategy, worked well for Nixon in the southern strategy in the early ‘70s, 40 years ago.  But the demographic makeup of the country is changing.  You‘ve got more younger voters.  They are voting more Democratic.  You‘ve got single and unmarried voters, who are a majority in this country, who are also voting Democratic.  And you have non-white voters who are voting democratic. 

So I think that to continue to pursue a strategy that is race baiting and that is, you know, attacking Democrats the way that Republicans are doing it is not a long-term recipe for success.  

SCHULTZ:  John Feehery, I don‘t think it‘s a stretch.  When you have the former vice president of the United States continually attacking the president, people out there take it to the next level.  I mean, they think some of these Republican leaders, I mean, it‘s coming right out of the gospel, tempers flare.  Who knows where this is going to end up.  Why doesn‘t the Republican party cool it?  Why don‘t they tell people, this isn‘t who we are?  Or is that who they are?

JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Ed, I must say, I‘m kind of shocked by this.  I remember very specifically the members of the left viciously attacking George Bush in a way that I never had seen before, way beyond what they‘re doing with Barack Obama. 

I mean, this is the competition for ideas.  If Republicans—I think that some republican leaders are going to be concerned about the president bowing to the Japanese emperor.  I wasn‘t one of those, but some Americans are going to be concerned about that.  

SCHULTZ:  Can we show the billboard again?  I want to show the billboard up.  It had the president of the United States with a turbine on.  It is racist and the Republicans will not distance themselves from this.  In fact, you have Dick Cheney going out there intimating that, yeah, this is who the guy is.  

FEEHERY:  Let me say this, Ed.  Remember when Michael Moore said that President Bush was somehow implicated in 9/11? I didn‘t see democratic leaders—

SCHULTZ:  Michael Moore is not an elected official, John.  Michael Moore is not an official party member.  

WEBSTER:  Can I just get in?

(CROSS TALK)

SCHULTZ:  Hold on.  You cannot compare Michael Moore to the vice president of the United States.  And you can‘t compare him to someone who is running to be vice president of the United States.  This is clearly taken to a level—the Republicans just do not distance themselves from this.  

FEEHERY:  Ed Schultz, are you saying that the vice president can not -

·         the former vice president cannot criticize the president for bowing to the Japanese emperor?  You say they can‘t do that?

SCHULTZ:  Look, he‘s showing us—he claims he‘s saying it‘s fundamentally wrong, that it‘s fundamentally weak, and that he is putting the—

FEEHERY:  He believes that.  Is that so wrong?

SCHULTZ:  Don‘t you see how this rhetoric gets elevated and then people act on it?

FEEHERY:  I saw MoveOn.org attack David Petraeus, calling him David Betray-Us. 

SCHULTZ:  MoveOn.org is a liberal organization.  We‘re talking about -

·         wait a minute, now.  Hold on.  Sarah Palin, on the record, she says that Barack Obama pals around with terrorists.  Show the billboard again.  In the very same state, look what happens a year later.  Hey, “president or jihad?”  John, how can you deny the fact that there are righties out there, and Republicans who don‘t denounce it, that take this rhetoric to the next level?

FEEHERY:  I will condemn that billboard.  I don‘t like it.  I will say that, as the French philosopher once said, I may not like what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.  I think the great thing about America is you have a competition of ideas.  Crazy ideas are automatically discarded.  And we have to have a competition for good ideas. 

I don‘t like that billboard.  I think it‘s—I don‘t think it‘s helpful.  But I do say that he has a right to do it, just like Michael Moore had his right to do his crazy, crazy movies.  

SCHULTZ:  With freedom of speech goes a responsibility.  The first—

FEEHERY:  I agree with that.  

SCHULTZ:  The first amendment of the Constitution isn‘t freedom of speech to go around and do whatever the hell you want to do.  It‘s a responsibility, the freedom of speech.  This rhetoric is reckless, insightful and put out there by Sarah Palin and it was backed up by dick Cheney.  

FEEHERY:  When MoveOn.Org said David Betray-Us, they were doing the same thing.  

SCHULTZ:  I don‘t know if anybody at MoveOn.org has ever been running for president or vice president. 

FEEHERY:  They funded the left‘s campaigns.  

SCHULTZ:  I can tell you this guy‘s funding some people that are running for office as well.  Hell, he‘s taking out a billboard.  That‘s in kind, if nothing else.  I believe this is dangerous stuff and I think it‘s gone too far.  And I think it‘s up to the Republicans to reel in all the rhetoric.  Todd Webster, I‘ll give you your last thought. 

WEBSTER:  I tend to agree with john.  I think it was Abraham Lincoln that said, I may disagree with what you say, but I‘ll defend to the death your right to say it.  These right wing commentators are talking about losing all these freedoms.  Glenn Beck still has the freedom of speech.  He still has the freedom of association to go and assemble with all the Tea partiers and Tea Baggers and the  birthers.  And he‘s got the freedom of the press, so he can go out and is free to be a knuckle head five nights a week on television. 

So all of the freedoms that people are afraid are being abridged are still there in full force.  I think it‘s distasteful and I think it—at a macro-level, it continues to hurt the Republican brand, and it makes them more of a regional party, primarily in the south and a few spots in the west.  

SCHULTZ:  I think some of these folks out there feel so disenfranchised that the Republican party can‘t denounce it, because then they would lose them for good. 

WEBSTER:  That‘s their base—the Democratic base—

FEEHERY:  I don‘t think there‘s any doubt about that.  I don‘t think they think the politicians are listening to them.  There‘s no doubt about that there‘s an element out there, on both the right and left, that feel completely disenfranchised from Washington.  

SCHULTZ:  Got to run.  Have a great Thanksgiving.  Really appreciate you guys coming on the program regularly.  Really appreciate that.  Good conversation.  

Coming up, health care reform is now in the cross-hairs of the gun lobby.  The head of the Gun Owners for America and I, we‘re going to duel it out next in the “Playbook.”  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  In my “playbook” tonight, as if health care reform doesn‘t have enough problems, now the gun lobby is getting in the act, trying to shoot it down.  The Gun Owners of America Organization is telling its members that the health care bill we‘re considering in America will let President Obama take away their weapons. 

Let me bring in the executive director of that group, Larry Pratt.  Mr. Pratt, explain your position on this.  Do you really believe that if we pass health care reform in this country that it‘s going to restrict gun ownership?  I need an explanation on this one.  Good to have you with us.  

LARRY PRATT, GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA:  Good evening, and thank you for

having me on.  There‘s two main concerns that we have with this health care

legislation.  The first is that for quite some time, there‘s been a

building of privacy invasion, starting in 2007.  Medical records were—

had to be computerized and sent to the FBI if they had anything to do with

·         you might be a danger to self or others.  No trial, no conviction, no due process.  Just send the names over. 

SCHULTZ:  You think the database and all the information gathering would help law enforcement deny and laws help deny people getting guns?

PRATT:  Denying is not the problem.  It‘s doing it without due process, without a trial, without any of those sorts of protections that a real criminal would have.  We‘re treating people as if they were criminals.  

SCHULTZ:  What if somebody has a mental condition?  Would you want Mr.  Hasan, after all he wrote—do you think it‘s OK for him to buy a gun, because he ended up killing a bunch of people and wounding another 40?

PRATT:  I think instead of ignoring his jihadi tendencies, as the review board did, and said, well, we don‘t have enough Muslims in the military, and so we have to let him go through.  I think the thing to do would have been, at a minimum, kick him out of the military and maybe go from there.  

SCHULTZ:  You think it would have been—you have no problem with the guy who shot up Ft. Hood and murdered people, allegedly—you think it‘s OK for him to own a gun after all the information that‘s come out against. 

PRATT:  What we have a problem with is that was a gun-free zone.  It was a marvelous place.  Like all the other mass murder scenes in our country were gun-free zones.  

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Pratt, what‘s wrong with gun confiscation, if we can keep a gun out of the hands of someone who has got some real mental issues that happen to come up through health care reform?  Doesn‘t that make us safer?  That doesn‘t mean you can‘t or I can‘t or some other healthy person can‘t go out and get a firearm.  

PRATT:  Do you have an aversion to putting people to trial before you take away their rights?  Is that what it is?  You want to accuse?

SCHULTZ:  I do believe psychiatrists and psychologists should have the power to deny—you shouldn‘t own a firearm.  

PRATT:  That‘s a dictatorial power.  They use that in Nazi German.  They use that in the Soviet Union.  They used it in Cuba.  That doesn‘t have any place in America.  

SCHULTZ:  It has every place, because the social morays for gun ownership, especially handguns, has changed in this country.  Your other claim is that Senate health care bill would let government offer lower premiums for employees who bribe their employees to live healthier lifestyles.  

PRATT:  That‘s one of the big buzzes about what‘s going on.  They‘re going to go after fat people.  And the way the National Institutes of health is going, in spite of a ban on the same thing from the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health is starting to renew the federal government‘s interest in guns and public health.  You can just see where this will go, with a very anti-gun administration.  

SCHULTZ:  All right, Mr. Pratt, got to have you back.  Appreciate your time today.  Only in America, freedom of speech.  Thank you for joining us.

Coming up, Arianna Huffington warns the unemployment disaster will be Obama‘s Katrina.  We‘ll talk about that with Congressman Gregory Meeks when we come back right here on THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  President Obama has to start making the economic recovery felt on Main Street.  They‘re working on it.  We have had 22 straight months of job losses.  Unemployment at the highest rate in 26 years.  And now “Huffington Post” founder Arianna Huffington has written a piece—you can check it out on “Huffington Post”—comparing Obama‘s response to unemployment to Bush‘s incompetence after Hurricane Katrina. 

For more on that, let me bring in Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks.  Congressman, good to have you with us tonight.  

REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D), NEW YORK:  Good to be with you.  

SCHULTZ:  Arianna Huffington writes and she compares to the 2,500 foot flyover that Bush did over Hurricane Katrina, to the president looking down on the economy now.  Is that a bridge too far?  What do you think?

MEEKS:  That‘s almost laughable.  When you look at this president, before he was even elected president, he was focused on the jobs issue.  He was talking about that we have to make sure that we create jobs again.  Now, unfortunately, the damage that was done from the storm, the financial storm that took place, the first thing that you have to do is you have to build a pillar.  The pillar of roots in the ground.  The roots in the ground, we have to recover the economy.  That‘s why this is the biggest catastrophe that we‘ve had since the Great Depression.  

SCHULTZ:  It‘s about jobs.  What‘s the next pillar, in your opinion?

What does the president have to do? 

MEEKS:  You‘re going to see soon we‘re going to pass the transportation bill next year that‘s going to create jobs.  On December 3rd, the president is having a jobs summit, of which he‘s bringing together small business, big business, labor organizations, not for profits, of which we‘re also going to talk about how we put things in place, moving in that direction. 

I think as the money, the stimulus money—you have to remember most of that money has not been spent yet.  As we begin to lay that money out, that‘s going to create more jobs.  The first part of it actually saved some jobs.  

SCHULTZ:  You know, I get the infrastructure and I get the government funding and all that stuff.  But the private sector is going to have to create jobs for long-term sustainable growth if we‘re going to turn out of this thing.  Is this not a real serious moment for the Obama administration, this jobs summit that they‘re going to have next month?

MEEKS:  Absolutely, it‘s a serious moment.  We have not had this kind of problem since the Great Depression.  People forget that for the Great Depression it took us ten years to get—almost World War II.  That‘s not going to be as long in this situation because this president is focused on it.  I predict jobs will be created and we start looking at a six to eight month period of time.  You‘ll start seeing jobs created.  This president is on the mark and he‘s ready and he‘s moving and he‘s focused in getting it done.  

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Meeks, appreciate your time tonight.  Thanks so much.  

MEEKS:  My pleasure.  

SCHULTZ:  Thanks for coming in.  For more let‘s go to our panel tonight.  Associate editor and columnist for “The Hill” A.B. Stoddard, and also editor in chief of Salon.com, Joan Walsh. 

Joan, let‘s start with you on this topic of jobs.  Could it be Barack Obama‘s Katrina?

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM:  I wouldn‘t call it that.  Arianna is a good friend of mine.  She‘s a wonderful writer.  But I think that‘s a little bit of hyperbole that insults Obama and also insults Katrina survivors.  Katrina was an example of government incompetence and indifference.  Obama is not incompetent or indifferent. 

He is, however, dragging his heels on this issue a little bit.  Like Arianna, I don‘t like hearing the administration talk about the deficit at this point.  I don‘t like hearing them kind of pooh-poohing the idea of a second stimulus.  I bet you we‘re going to need one. 

I think he needs to make this the top of his agenda.  He‘s facing revolt from the Democratic party.  Nancy Pelosi is not happy.  Harry Reid is not happy.  The Congressional Black Caucus is not happy.  He has a fire under him.  We‘ll see how he responds in the next week or two.  

SCHULTZ:  A.B., when does the private sector get attention on creating jobs?  What do you think Obama and his administration‘s economic team could do about that?

A.B. STODDARD, “THE HILL”:  The problem is there‘s bipartisan outrage, but disagreement on what should be done.  Liberals want more stimulus and conservatives want tax relief to go back to small businesses to spur hiring.  And nobody wants more deficits. 

So he‘s in a real corner.  The president has to decide which way to go.  It seems to me like finding ways to redirect Tarp money and finding ways to find remaining stimulus money that could be used for those purposes, to spur hiring in the private sector, would be a useful bipartisan effort.  At this point, though, Joan‘s point is so key here, Ed, and that is that liberals are now revolting against the president. 

So he‘s taking it from all sides.  He no longer has Democrats defending him.  This is why, though it might not be his Katrina—he might not be incompetent—it might not be the issue that could break him.  

SCHULTZ:  We just had a Democratic congressman on defending the president.  It‘s not all Democrats jumping off the Obama ship.  

STODDARD:  Not all, but many.  

SCHULTZ:  They just want to see him hit the gas on this, for lack of a better term.  Let‘s talk Afghanistan quickly if we can.  Joan Walsh, a tax increase to pay for this.  Would that be a political killer for the president?

WALSH:  Oh, it absolutely would.  Democrats would—you would see both sides jumping off the ship.  You know, he is really going to hear a lot more from his base on Afghanistan even than jobs.  People are very, very concerned, very opposed to an escalation. 

At a time like this, to have our money, our scarce money going to Afghanistan and not to our schools and to creating jobs and to health care is offensive. 

I like the idea, Ed, in the sense, you know, put your money where your mouth is.  If you‘re going to do this, stop increasing the deficit for war.  That‘s the only reason we can ever increase the deficit, right?  We have to pay for health care.  

SCHULTZ:  A.B., How do we get around 35,000 more troops, 40 billion dollars? I mean, there‘s no end to it.  

STODDARD:  No, there isn‘t.  The thing is the president has to come out—we know he‘s taking a long time deliberating because he never liked the options in front of him.  Now we hear he‘s going to send 30,000 plus more troops with  an exit plan, an escalation with exit ramps.  I don‘t know at this point that he can convince a majority of Americans opposed to the war that it‘s worth escalating to find an exit ramp.  Certainly, as Joan says, it‘s going to be very, very hard for him to find enough support in the left of his party to get that through Congress and pay for it.  

SCHULTZ:  A.B. Stoddard, Joan Walsh, thanks for joining us tonight. 

Appreciate it.  

Earlier, I asked the audience, are you willing to pay higher taxes to fund the war?  Twenty eight percent of you said yes; 72 percent said no.  That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more information on THE ED SHOW, go to Ed.MSNBC.com or check out my radio website at WeGotEd.com.  “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now on the place for politics, MSNBC.  We‘ll see you from the Twin Cities tomorrow night, 6:00 Eastern, right here on MSNBC.  Have a great one. 

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