updated 12/3/2009 10:40:48 AM ET 2009-12-03T15:40:48

THE ED SHOW

December 2, 2009

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.

THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

Guests: Bernie Sanders, Maxine Waters, Cliff May, Patrick Leahy, Barbara Boxer, Michael Medved, Sam Stein, Jeremy Scahill

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

In the aftermath of the president's speech, easily put, this country is divided. What was your water cooler like in the workplace today? Well, divided? Yes. It's divided in the Congress as well.

Two of the most experienced vets in the Congress, both Democrats on totally opposite sides of the issue, on this program last night. Former three-star admiral Joe Sestak and former Navy commander Eric Massa, they're in the Congress, they know what it's about, they've been there, they've done that. You won't find two people more knowledgeable and two people more divided.

Listen to what they had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOE SESTAK (D), PENNSYLVANIA: This president, for the first time in the last eight years, has done something that the last president did wrongly. That president had a chief of staff that said in Iraq, we do what we must. In Afghanistan, we do what we can.

Can? Against the al Qaeda that struck us? No.

This president has said, I can't let that happen. This president has stood tall for what's going for the nation, and the party is second.

REP. ERIC MASSA (D), NEW YORK: This is not an issue about politics. It's not about an issue about standing with the president, one president or the other. It's about deploying five, six seven times American military personnel to do what is militarily impossible.

And I think that we must raise our voices not as liberals or progressives or liberals or Republicans or Democrats, but as thinking commonsense Americans who have seen this movie before and we know how it is going to end.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: I am torn. I respect these two congressmen so much. They have done this country well. They're both dedicated veterans, decorated veterans as well, with completely opposite views on this escalation.

We weren't blindsided by this. That's what we've got to keep in focus here.

This president told us over and over again on the campaign trail that he wanted to do more troops in Afghanistan to take out the terrorists. So I voted for him.

I mean, I knew what Obama was saying on the campaign trail. He wanted to end the Iraq, which he is doing, and he wanted to beef up the troops in Afghanistan.

So how can I sit here as a radio broadcaster, as television host and say, no, Obama, you're history? I can't bail on the guy on this one. He deserves the first move.

You know, I oppose the policy but I support the president. I want him to succeed.

Now, think about this. If the president doesn't do this, and we fail in Afghanistan, we cut and run-and I know it's a right-wing bullet point, but if we get out of there and it really deteriorates, and God forbid something happens again, folks, that is the end of the Obama agenda. That is the end of the progressive movement in this country.

Now, if he says it's in our national security interest, I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Today, Secretaries Clinton and Gates went to Capitol Hill to talk to the skeptical lawmakers. Gates tried to make the connection, connect the dots between the war in Afghanistan and America's security.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: ... that with a western defeat, they could regain their strength and achieve a major strategic victory, as long as their senior leadership lives and can continue to inspire and attract followers and funding. Rolling back the Taliban is now necessary, even if not sufficient, to the ultimate defeat of al Qaeda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Now, liberals, if you're really upset with this, just consider this. It was either going to be Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. Either one of them would have beaten John McCain.

First of all, if McCain had won, hell, we'd be in Iran right now. OK?

You want that?

Hillary Clinton would have done the same thing.

Obama knows more as president than he does when he was a senator. He is a smart guy. He's not going to run us into the ditch like Bush did.

Now, last night was a gutsy and tough decision. The president broke with a lot of Democrats and progressives, but the president didn't cave in to the chicken hawks. He did set a deadline. Now, I think this is a major part of this story.

For the first time, we have a commander, a general, General McChrystal. He's OK with the 18-month window, deadline, whatever you want to call it. This is something that we have not had in the past.

He's saying, well, the Taliban can't win. So you can imagine the conversations that the president and his generals have had. I can see the generals sitting there saying, hey, you give me 30,000 troops and I'll go in there and I'll set it right and I'll kick their ass, we'll do this right. That's what I think McChrystal said.

For him to come out-for a military general to come out and say, I'm OK with the deadline, this is a big deal. He's on board.

This is a show of support for President Obama. The key question now is, can the Obama plan work in 18 months?

We've been down this road before. He is taking ownership now of an unpopular war. He didn't ask for it. He asked for more troop, more dollars, more patience.

I'm going to give it to him.

Mr. President, I'm with you. You get no criticism from this broadcaster tonight and this supporter tonight for making this tough decision. You deserve the first move. You've earned it.

Get your cell phones out, folks. I want to know what you think.

Tonight's text survey is: Do you trust that we'll leave Afghanistan by 2012? Do you trust that we will leave Afghanistan by 2012?

Text "A" for yes and "B" for no to 622639. We'll bring you the results later on in the show.

It pains me to say this tonight, folks. It does. It pains me.

I'm not a warmonger. I'm not a war hawk. But I do believe that if we were to fail in Afghanistan, the righties would have so much on Obama, we would never have the progressive movement that we have got a chance at having right now.

I could be wrong, but that's my instinct. That's my heart. And that's my belief in this president.

And I've got to give him the benefit of doubt because he was true to his campaign promise-end it in Iraq, go after the terrorists in Afghanistan. That's what I supported. That's what I voted for. We're at that juncture.

Joining me tonight is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who may see it in a different light.

Senator, good to have you with us tonight.

SEN. BERNIE SANDER (I), VERMONT: Good it be with you, Ed.

SCHULTZ: There are so many issues here-the money, the troop level, the length, the timeline.

Does the timeline, in your opinion, change the dichotomy of this at all?

SANDERS: Not really. I think the president made a mistake. I'm disappointed at what he did. And I'll tell you one of the reasons. There are many reasons.

You know, this country is in the midst of a terrible, terrible recession. Seventeen percent of our people are unemployed, underemployed. We have a $12 trillion debt.

The truth is, obviously, that nobody wants to see the Taliban regain power in Afghanistan. We're all concerned about the destabilization of a nuclear-armed Pakistan.

But you know what, Ed? This is a worldwide problem.

Where is Europe? Where is Russia? Where is China? Where is the rest of the world?

There was a funny piece in the paper today. Sarkozy of France says he is right behind the president. He thought it was a great speech. But, no, the French, who, by the way, have health care for all of their people, virtually free college education, good infrastructure, no, they are not of a mind to put more troops into Afghanistan. And that's true for much of the rest of the world.

With these 30,000 troops, we're going to have 70 percent of the foreign troops in Afghanistan. And the president, by the way, also didn't tell us how we're going to pay for this thing. Where's the money going to come from?

So, I have real concerns about what the president said last night, and I'm not sympathetic at this point to sending 30,000 more troops there.

SCHULTZ: What does bother me, Senator Sanders, is the fact that there are conservative Democrats out there who are going to support this move right away, yet, you know, they're not squawking about the money. It is a lot about the money and a priority list.

It would seem to me that this might strengthen the hand of the progressive movement and the progressives in Congress to say, hey, look, we need the public option in health care. I'll support you over here on the war effort for 18 months and that's it.

What about that card?

SANDERS: Well, I don't know that it works quite like that. We're going to fight. We're going to fight for a public option. But I think here's what the story is.

Should we be as irresponsible as Bush was in Iraq and simply dump this expense of the war on to our kids and our grandchildren? This is going to cost us, Ed, with these new troops about $100 billion a year, plus the cost of Iraq.

Or do you do as people like Dave Obey suggest, you raise taxes on the rich? Well, that's fine, except the Republicans are certainly not going to support that. And what that lays the groundwork for is our Republican friends coming in saying, well, you know what? We're going to have to cut back on the needs of our kids, we're going to have to cut back on education, we're going to have to cut back on infrastructure, at the same time as we need to invest so we can create new, good-paying jobs in America.

SCHULTZ: You bet.

SANDERS: That's the problem you have.

SCHULTZ: Senator, courageous voice you are. I respect you. I appreciate your time tonight.

Thanks so much.

SANDERS: Good to be with you.

SCHULTZ: It's a tough call.

Now, in the last few minutes you've seen a broadcaster who supports the president and then, of course, a progressive senator who's not there yet. This is a tough call in America. And it's hard for us.

I do believe that the Progressive Caucus in both the House and the Senate can go to the president and say, look, it's all about the money.

You know, I remember Joe Biden. Joe Biden used to go on the campaign trail and he said, "My dad used to say, 'Show me your budget and I'll show you your priorities.'" And I think that's the case in this position right now.

Joining me now is California Congresswoman Maxine Waters.

Congresswoman, good to have you with us tonight.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: Good to be with you.

SCHULTZ: You bet.

Last night you used the word "disappointment." That was your first reaction. In reflection, 24 hours later, do you feel the same way?

WATERS: Absolutely. As a matter of fact, the more I thought about this effort to talk about wind-down by indicating that they will start to bring our troops out by 2011, even though it's qualified depending on what is happening on the ground, just said to me this is an attempt by the president to satisfy the left, but it doesn't work.

It is not credible. And so, yes, I'm disappointed. And I want us to bring those troops home. I want us not to have to spend $30 billion.

I'm so focused on this domestic agenda and the lack of jobs. We need jobs. We need economic development.

Do you realize our businesses are closing, our newspapers are shutting down? We need to focus on this domestic agenda. We're not in any imminent danger from Afghanistan or Iraq at this point.

SCHULTZ: So you think the president is not credible on this subject?

Did I hear that correctly?

WATERS: I think that if the president believes that by saying that they're going to train the troops in Afghanistan, and they will secure Afghanistan, and we will start to pull out by 2011, and then qualify that by saying, depending on what's happening on the ground, it doesn't work. It doesn't really ring true.

SCHULTZ: Do you think the Congressional Black Caucus will be with the president on this move?

WATERS: Well, I can't predict that, but I can tell you what the Congressional Black Caucus is focused on.

Today we had a big press conference, and we said that we are tired of sitting back and voting for bailouts and voting for everything except our communities. We are suffering in these communities.

We have joblessness to the tune of 17.4 percent. Our youth are unemployed to the tune of about 30 percent, 35 percent.

We can no longer sit back and play the political game of getting along, going along. We have got to step outside of the box. We have got to be against anything...

SCHULTZ: What are you going to do?

WATERS: Well, we have already started to meet with the administration. We're making some demands.

Ten members of the Financial Services Committee who happen to be African-American didn't vote for the big economic recovery bill today. We had to send a message that we are not going...

SCHULTZ: Well, Congresswoman, this would be my point in this. It's all about horse trading. It's all about the negotiation.

Why doesn't the Congressional Black Caucus go in to see President Obama and say, look, we'll give you 18 months in Afghanistan if you go to the firewall for a full, robust public option? Why not do that?

It's all tied together, the economy, Afghanistan and health care.

It's all together. Why not do that?

WATERS: It's all together, and we have to determine what our priorities are. And even though you talk about horse trading on two of the issues, we have a broader agenda that's dealing with fairness and equity in contracting and employment.

Do you realize that the Department-DOD spends billions of dollars on just advertising alone? Do you know how much the minority newspapers get? Zilch, nothing, not a dime.

And so we're talking about opening up opportunities for the businesses in our community that will create jobs, stabilize our communities, and get out of this devastation that we're in.

SCHULTZ: And you think the $30 billion that we're going to spend in Afghanistan is going to harness all of those efforts?

WATERS: It would go a long way. Some of what could be done could be done without new money. For example, just depositing money in minority banks doesn't cost the government anything.

SCHULTZ: I'm for that. I am absolutely for that.

WATERS: Yes.

SCHULTZ: But I think the president, he can do all of these things. I think that you're in a great negotiating position right now.

WATERS: We are. We are.

SCHULTZ: He is going to need your support to get this deal done.

Congresswoman, you know I love you. You're such a fighter out there.

WATERS: Thank you.

SCHULTZ: Keep going. Keep going.

WATERS: We cast the gauntlet today.

SCHULTZ: You did what?

WATERS: We cast the gauntlet today. We laid down the gauntlet.

SCHULTZ: I'm with you.

WATERS: Thank you.

SCHULTZ: I like it. I like it.

WATERS: Thank you.

SCHULTZ: It all sounds good.

WATERS: All right. Thank you.

SCHULTZ: Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California tonight.

For more, let me bring in Cliff May. He's the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a nonpartisan group.

All right, Cliff, pros and cons. Where do we stand on the president's decision?

CLIFF MAY, PRESIDENT, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Look, I think he had a hard decision to make. He was deciding between a bad option and a worse option. And I think he did the best he could under the circumstances in that, for more than a year, our commanders in the field in Afghanistan have been saying we need reinforcements.

Afghanistan is a very key battle in a global war being waged against us by radical jihadis. If we were to retreat, if we were to be thrown off that battlefield or defeated there, believe me, it would be consequential. He doesn't want that to happen, and I give him credit for that.

SCHULTZ: So he did the right thing.

Now, what about the end date? Does it really mean something that General McChrystal is OK with the timeline? This is something new.

MAY: Well, I think he'll do his absolute best. And if you look at the timeline of the surge in Iraq, this is not unrealistic.

I think it is good that-nonetheless, if you look at it, Obama said we're going to look at conditions on the ground at the time. Because if you go out a year, 18 months, and you find that you are not defeating the Taliban, then I think you can't just say, well, it's time to go home. In fact, there's a real danger in putting a timeline out there, as I've said, and I'm not sure you agree with me, Ed, because you're essentially telling the bad guys, telling the Taliban, telling al Qaeda, here's how you can wait this out.

SCHULTZ: You're right. I disagree with that. I think we need something new.

There's nothing wrong with that. It tells the Afghans if they really want their country the way they want it, we're going to help them up to this point. They've got to get it in gear.

Cliff, good to have you with us tonight. Appreciate your time.

MAY: Thank you.

SCHULTZ: Coming up, Patrick Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is going to be joining us. We're going to be talking about what he wants to do with the insurance industry when it comes to antitrust.

And Karl Rove is in "Psycho Talk" tonight, where he actually belongs every night.

We're right back on THE ED SHOW. Stay with us. This is where you come for politics, MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

I guess you could say we're tracking the movements of the antis like Joe Lieberman and other Democratic obstructionists.

Lieberman made an interesting move today. He actually is supporting a good Democratic policy.

He signed on to an amendment to, I guess you could say, trust-bust the big health insurance companies in this country. Of course, Lieberman is still saying he's going to join the Republicans and kill the bill altogether. So maybe this is just a token effort on his part.

Joining me now is Vermont Senator Pat Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, who is planning to file what we are now calling, Senator, a trust-busting amendment. I don't know if you're calling it that, but we like it, Pat, so that's what I'm calling it. You're going after them.

SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: I am, Ed.

SCHULTZ: Is this going to work? Do you think this has got life, that you can reel in the insurance industry and take away what Major League Baseball has got as well?

LEAHY: I think we can. It would take away their antitrust protection. It's been there for decades. It makes no sense at all. It allows the insurance companies to get together and stifle competition, the sort of thing if any other industry in the country did it, the Justice Department would step in and stop it.

Two years ago, a little more than two years ago, I introduced an even tougher antitrust-busting bill, and Trent Lott, the conservative Republican leader, joined me on it. Now we have 17 or 18 who have joined this.

I think it's something that's going to pass. I think it's an anachronism in the law to give antitrust protection to an industry that does not need it. Basically, the antitrust allows them to say, OK, I want to go in this state, but you stay out of it. But then I'll stay out of this under state and you go in it.

SCHULTZ: And do you think, Senator, there's bid-rigging, price-fixing? And do you think there's market manipulation? I mean, that is really where we are right now.

LEAHY: If there hasn't been bid-rigging, if there hasn't been market manipulation, then the insurance companies should have no objection to this amendment going through. Instead, they're willing to spend huge amounts of money to defeat it. I'll let the public draw a conclusion.

SCHULTZ: Senator, it's rather interesting. You called for the removal of Joe Lieberman as the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and now you're working with him on this.

LEAHY: Well, you know, Trent Lott and I were not ideological soul mates and we worked together on it. Sometimes good legislation attracts people across the political spectrum, and I think that you're going to see senators across the political spectrum on this.

But also, I think they can read the polls. About two-thirds of the American public want to see this amendment pass.

SCHULTZ: Why did Harry Reid take it out of the bill?

LEAHY: I'm not sure, but it's in the House bill. Harry Reid was my lead-off witness in the Judiciary Committee in favor of it. He has stated publicly over and over again he will support it. I think when we get to the end of the bill he will be supporting it. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if it's in the manager's package.

SCHULTZ: And I've got to ask you about Dick Cheney. He's out running his mouth again.

Are you any closer to the former vice president after the things he's been saying? And what are your thoughts on what he's been saying?

LEAHY: You know, this is a man who wanted to be president for the eight years that he was there as vice president, and he wants still to be relevant. I think when he says how decisive we are-in his administration, yes, they decisively went into Iraq when there were no weapons of mass destruction, when Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. So decisive to go in there and spend $1 trillion for nothing.

I don't really care for that kind of decisiveness.

SCHULTZ: And do you support the president in his speech last night?

Are you going to support him moving troops into Afghanistan?

LEAHY: I have a lot of questions about that. I met with the president, along with others before-yesterday afternoon, before his speech. I told him that I understand he's in a difficult position because we all supported going into Afghanistan to get Osama bin Laden. The last administration let bin Laden escape into Pakistan.

I think we've got to have a better definition of why we should stay there and spend hundreds of billions of dollars more and risk American lives to the extent we are.

SCHULTZ: So you're holding judgment, is what I'm hearing?

LEAHY: I'm holding judgment, yes, sir.

SCHULTZ: Senator, good to have you with us tonight. Thank you.

LEAHY: Ed, always good to be with you. Take care.

SCHULTZ: You bet. You bet. Thank you, sir.

Coming up, righty wing nut Karl Rove was for the Obama surge, then he's against it. Where's that land him? "Psycho Talk."

That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: And in "Psycho Talk" tonight, the all-American psycho talker, turd blossom himself, Karl Rove.

Now, he's usually-you like that one, huh? OK.

He's usually an expert at consistently pushing righty talking points.

But yesterday, ooh, he did a flip-flop. He was all over the place.

First, he said he supported the president, his decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL ROVE, FMR. CHIEF ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BUSH: That's a definitive action. And if the president does do that, I'll be among the first to stand up and applaud.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Well, he got a chance to stand up and applaud less than 10 minutes after the president stopped talking last night. But turd blossom decided to go in another direction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROVE: I think he might need a new teleprompter with some Energizer Bunny batteries in it. He did not rally the country. He did not explain the stakes. He did not explain how he intends to do this.

It took him 80-some-odd days to do this. It took us 50-some-odd days to remove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan after 9/11.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Hmm. Hmm. Let's see, the days thing.

OK, Karl. I don't know if I would be bragging about taking about taking out the Taliban in 50 days, because eight years later we're still there, Afghanistan, because your folks, the guy you worked for, screwed this whole thing up. Remember we were over in Iraq looking for weapons of mass destruction?

Karl, that is "Psycho Talk!" We're still in Afghanistan!

Coming up, Tiger Woods issued a profound apology after a sleazy cell phone recording that sounds a lot like him surfaces. You can hear it and decide for yourself in my "Playbook."

Plus, the public option is under siege again. I'll be there to defend it. This time by a Democratic plan called the Hammer? Senator Barbara Boxer will tell us what it's all about in just a moment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. President Obama trying to get health care reform done. You know who his number one enemy is? His own party. The Democrats, you see, we're just a big dog, OK? Like a dog out for a walk. And our name is majority. And we're on this leash and we're being walked by our owner called minority. And the guy that's walking us, his name is Joe Lieberman, OK?

Now this public option is getting carved up again. Senator Carper of Delaware, the brains behind the last compromise proposal, the opt out, is drafting a new watered-down plan that will win the support of Democratic turn coats like Joe Lieberman and Blanche Lincoln, who isn't going to win anyway. The so-called Hammer-that's what it's called. It's a Hammer proposal.

It's not a government-run plan at all. It's going to be run by a board of directors that's not going to have any taxpayer funding at all. It's just going to have initial startup money.

You know what it is? It's outrageous, that's what it is. Why are we negotiating with those who can't win in their own state, when, in their own state, they want the public option?

Look at this. We have gone from-let's see-a robust public option to an opt out. Oh, let's go to the opt in. Oh, wait a minute, we've got the trigger. Oh, wait a minute, now we're at the Hammer.

Can you follow this? When these turn-coat Democrats aren't gutting the public option, they're trying to screw it up other ways as well. Ben Nelson bragging about adding abortion language to the same thing Stupak gave us. Thanks, Ben, fight wasn't hard enough, was it?

These conservative Democrats are selfish. That's what they are. They are not listening to their constituents. I think they need to be a soldier for the party right now on this issue and also support the president.

Maybe we just shouldn't have health care reform. I'm serious about this. If we can't get the public option, maybe we should just say, OK, no health care reform this year, and we'll see you at the midterms, conservatives, next year.

Joining me now is California Senator Barbara Boxer on this issue. I could be wrong. Senator, thanks for your time tonight. Is it time to play hard ball with those conservative Democrats? No matter what we do, they get in the way of us moving forward with a public plan. What are your thoughts, senator?

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, Ed, I listened to your-how could I say-tirade or your frustrations spilling over. And I don't agree with you that the Democrats are the worst enemy of the president on health care. I really have to say, I don't agree with you.

We have a Republican party here in the United States Senate. They're slow walking us to death. We can't even get an amendment agreed to vote upon. So we now know that Senator Gregg has put out a letter-I just read it-to all of his Republican colleagues, explaining how they can slow walk this thing. He uses every other word but the filibuster-for a full debate, which we know what that means. It means they're never going to get out of the way unless we have 60 votes.

So here's what I want to say to you about your frustration. There's no question that the Democratic party represented in the United States Senate is a very big umbrella. It is a very big umbrella. And that brings with it a lot of frustration. If we agreed on everything, if it was a parliamentary system, the way you would like it to be-and believe me, there are days that I would love it to be-it would be a lot easier than that. You have a prime minister who says my party will do X, you kind of get it done.

The House is a lot easier, too, because they don't have open amending process, so they can kind of get things moving. What I want to say to you is, knowing that we have this big, broad umbrella here, it's going to be hard to get the thing accomplished. We're going to get it done.

Let me just tell you, we're going to get it done. We did have a caucus today. We agreed to stay here as long as it takes to get it done. Yes, it doesn't look pretty as you look at each, you know, battle. Tom Carper is trying to put together something that will work. And it may not be something that I can support at the end of the day. But I think we have to try to do it because we are so close. We are this close, Ed, to getting real reform.

SCHULTZ: We really are, senator. And I respect your disagreement with me. But let me remind you, respectfully, that progressives in this country were told 60 votes. Progressives in this country were told that we were going to have real reform if we could just get the majorities and the White House. Progressives in this country have done this.

What have we done now? We've seen single payer taken off the table. We've gone from a robust to an opt in to an opt out to a trigger to a hammer. We don't-the fact is that Joe Lieberman has said no government-run plan. The fact is that Ben Nelson has said not going to get on any kind of government-run plan. So has Blanche Lincoln. The Democrats aren't together, senator. They're the biggest problem.

BOXER: I know, Ed. Ed, Ed, they're not-who gave us 60 votes to move forward and who voted every one of them not to move forward?

SCHULTZ: Now that we're there, let's get it done.

BOXER: But Ed, look, you know, you're always complaining about the next thing. Just take a deep breath.

SCHULTZ: No, senator, I'm not. I'm not complaining about the next thing. This is the reality of it. I take people at their word.

BOXER: I'm living the reality of it.

SCHULTZ: I do, too.

(CROSS TALK)

SCHULTZ: When someone tells me-if you tell me-

BOXER: I'm not going to argue with you.

SCHULTZ: I know. I don't want to argue with you. You're a great friend.

BOXER: I love you. I don't want to argue with you.

SCHULTZ: We have a lot of love on this program tonight.

BOXER: I'm trying to explain this to you.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

BOXER: I fought hard to get that 60th vote. Al Franken, I'm really glad he's here. We got the 60 votes to move forward. Everyone thought the public option was dead. Harry Reid put it back in. Don't give up on us. The people out there, don't give up on us. This battle is still being waged. And we're going to get it done.

Let me say something to you you may not realize. In this bill-I think you do, but maybe it's not in the front of your mind. We expand a government-run program called Medicaid and we take millions and millions of more people into that government-run plan. I have to check my facts, but I do think it's another 30 million. I have to double check that. But millions more people come into that.

We save another government-run plan, Medicare, by cutting out the waste, fraud and abuse and extending its life.

We help another government-run plan, the prescription drug plan, by filling in that donut hole and helping people.

SCHULTZ: There's a lot of good stuff, senator. I agree with it.

BOXER: I know, but-

SCHULTZ: There's a lot of good stuff. But to reel in the insurance industry, we have got to have a public option. I'm glad you're working at it. We're out of time tonight.

BOXER: I'm working on it.

SCHULTZ: I know you are. Mark my words, you can't trust Ben Nelson. You can't trust Blanche Lincoln. The Democrats, in my opinion, are causing the problems in all this.

BOXER: You're too hard on us. You're too hard on us. Look at the other side of the aisle.

SCHULTZ: They're insignificant, in my opinion, because they're in the minority. We could go-

BOXER:: They're not insignificant, because minorities have a lot of rights. They do have a lot of rights when we're in the minority. I used those tools. Anyway, let's keep on working. Bye.

SCHULTZ: I'm not too hard on you. I'm telling the truth. Good to have you with us. Senator Boxer with us tonight from California.

All right, Sam Stein, let's go to you, political reporter from "Huffington Post," part of our panel tonight, Michael Medved, radio talk show host, and author of the book, "The Five Big Lies About American Business, Combating Smears Against the Free Market Economy."

Sam Stein, how do you take the attitude of the Democrats right now, now that they're watering down the public option again with a new term called the Hammer?

SAM STEIN, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Well, for all the love that you and Senator Boxer just shared on air, I would have to disagree with elements of what she was saying. Yes, the Republicans are proving to be very well-established obstructionists on this one. But the problem, again, is with those four moderate Democratic senators.

And it's a bigger problem than just the specifics. It feels like you have to draw them over the line to actually get this bill done, as if passing health care reform would be a terrible thing for the country. You know, we're watering down the public option to a point where it's almost unrecognizable, and we're getting to the point where, even if it were to pass, the quality of reform that it would bring to the system is questionable at best. I know the idea is to get 60 votes. But at some point, they have to draw a line in the sand over principle. I'm waiting to see where that is.

SCHULTZ: Where's the compromise in any of this for the Republicans, Michael Medved?

MICHAEL MEDVED, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: There's not a question of compromising with the national interest. The national interest right now is not adding more money to the federal debt and to the deficit.

STEIN: Great. This reduces the deficit.

MEDVED: And not opening up a big new, open-ended entitlement for 30 million people added to Medicaid. That's supposed to help? That's what Senator Boxer just said. That's supposed to help us in a time when what we need is jobs.

What I think the Democrats-the reason the Democrats are having such a tough time on this is because the American people aren't with you. The American people want to focus on a recovery and on jobs. This health care reform would be a job killer. And more and more Americans are coming to understand that.

SCHULTZ: Michael, what about the CBO report that says it would actually save money? And Mr. Orszag came out today and said just that as well.

MEDVED: It wouldn't do that quickly. You see, most of the goodies-

SCHULTZ: Over ten years, it would.

MEDVED: Yes, but taxes would kick in immediately, and you know that. That's the way they're doing this funny math. The taxes kick in immediately. The benefits don't kick in until 2014, 2015 in some cases.

SCHULTZ: That's another compromise. That's a win that the conservatives got with the insurance industry. The fact is the CBO has scored it that over time, this would save money.

MEDVED: Yeah, but, again, that's if everything goes exactly right and what government plan-just like Medicare? I mean, Medicare benefited the American people, but the cost-

SCHULTZ: If we hadn't been invading people, we'd have the money to take care of that. Sam, final word.

MEDVED: People are also focused on Afghanistan right now, as the president was last night.

SCHULTZ: Sam, final word.

STEIN: For the final word, I mean, listen, clearly the CBO estimates that it will reduce deficit. I understand there is skepticism over government-run programs. Let's take into the fact that when Bush was in office, Medicare Part D was passed and that just absolutely ballooned the deficit. And Iraq ballooned the deficit. This whole notion that we now have to focus on cost and cost containment, yeah, we're going it. That's what the CBO is saying the health care bill will do.

(CROSS TALK)

SCHULTZ: Gentlemen, got to run. I'm up against the clock. Good to have you with us. Always a good discussion. Thank you, Michael. Thank you, Sam. Appreciate it.

Coming up, Michele Bachmann ought to hop off the tea party express and spend a little time in her own backyard. I'm going to show you a number that she ought to be down right ashamed of. That's coming up in the playbook. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: In my playbook tonight, Tiger Woods, the biggest athlete in the world, has taken a fall, and he's still sinking. Today "Us Weekly" posted a voice-mail that they say is from Tiger Woods to his alleged mistress, although we have not independently confirmed whose voice is it on the tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIGER WOODS, PGA GOLFER: Hey. It's Tiger. I need you to do me a huge favor. Can you please take your name off your phone? My wife went through my phone and may be calling you. If you can, please take your name off that and just have a number on the voice-mail. Just have it as your telephone number. That's it. OK? You have to do this for me. Huge, quickly. All right. Bye.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: MSNBC reached out to Tiger's attorney for comment on that message, but got no response. Now Tiger is trying to get it back on the fairway, so to speak, doing everything he can to get out of the trap. Hours after that message surfaced, he put out this apology, with full sincerity, "I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all my heart. I have not been true to my values and my behavior my family, deserves. I will strive to be a better person and husband and father that my family deserves. For all of those who have supported me over the years, I offer my profound apology."

To read Tiger's full statement, you can go to MSNBC.com. For more, let me bring in MSNBC.com columnist Courtney Hazlett.

Courtney, what do you make of this? Is he going to recover from all of this? There's no law enforcement issues going on right now. It's all in the image business. What do you think?

COURTNEY HAZLETT, MSNBC.COM CORRESPONDENT: It's absolutely all in the image business right now. I think what would have been wise is if this statement came out prior to the audio recording coming out. Tiger's attorneys were contacted prior to the publications that are running these things, with news this was going to be coming to press. so his team was aware. He did have the chance, in this circumstance, to come out in front of it. We're not talking about daily news papers. We're talking about weekly magazines, which take days to put together their material.

I do think, Ed, that it's key that he get back out on the golf course and do well. That's the thing. If he gets back out on the links and then stinks it up and can't hit a fairway and can't sink a putt, everyone will blame this. That's when sponsors will begin scratching their heads.

SCHULTZ: He said he would never do it again. That was one of his early statements. He's drawn the parameters for what his life is going to be on from this point on.

HAZLETT: He absolutely has. I think it's a little bit ironic that this life that he's built up around him is the very life that's making it difficult for him to address this right now. I know you're familiar with professional golf and anybody who's ever followed it knows that Tiger Woods is the most private of the private golfers. He has an inner circle around him that you can count mostly on one hand and have fingers left over.

But it's because he's getting the counsel of so few people, who truthfully have not had to deal with this sort of publicity dilemma before, that he might not be getting the best advice. Hopefully, the worst is behind him though. I just think it would have been essential if he would have come clean when he realized that this train left the station, days ago, to get out in front of it.

SCHULTZ: He is golf. Tiger Woods is a big, big part of the industry.

Courtney, good to have you with us tonight. Thank you.

HAZLETT: Any time, Ed.

SCHULTZ: One last page in my playbook tonight. It looks like Minnesota Congresswoman and Psycho Talk regular Michele Bachmann needs to spend a little bit more time riling up the right wing nut job partiers out there, and focus on her own backyard. You see, Bachmann's district as the highest number of foreclosures in the state of Minnesota. There were 1,100 of them in her district alone between July and September of this year. That's 100 more foreclosures than the district with the next highest number, and almost three times more than the district with the lowest number of foreclosures.

By the way, Bachmann, she voted against every major foreclosure relief bill this year.

Coming up, I think that Obama just put his presidency on the line with this 18-month plan for Afghanistan. We've got more coming up on that with some straight talk, next on THE ED SHOW. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. President Obama has issued his orders for Afghanistan. Now he's got to keep selling his plan. Bush administration did a great job of selling, didn't they? It's a day after day thing to the American public. Defense Secretary Gates and Secretary of State Clinton worked hard today, plugging the president's strategy before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: This approach is not open ended nation building. Beginning to transfer security responsibility to the Afghans in Summer 2011 is critical, and in my view achievable.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We face a range of difficult choices in Afghanistan and Pakistan. But the president's plan represents the best way we know to protect our nation, today, and in the future.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: Let me bring in "The Nation's" Jeremy Scahill. He has an investigative piece in the latest edition of "The Nation." It's must reading on the secret US war in Pakistan. Jeremy, thanks for your time tonight.

JEREMY SCAHILL, "THE NATION": Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ: This is what it's all about, Pakistan. I thought the president was clear about that last night. What is the secret war? What's going on that the American people don't know about?

SCAHILL: Beginning in 2006, the Bush administration struck an agreement with the Pakistani government that allowed US special forces operators to actually enter Pakistan, if they were, quote/unquote, chasing the target. In other words, if they were hunting Osama bin Laden or his top deputes. The Pakistanis agreed to this, with the understanding that they would deny having given that permission and could condemn it.

That program, Ed, has continued to today and has actually expanded. And I'm told by well placed intelligence sources that we have a division of our special forces that is operating a parallel drone bombing campaign inside of Pakistan that is responsible for a heck of a lot of civilian deaths, and that they're actually using contractors from the mercenary company Blackwater as part of their operations.

These guys are also planning snatch and grab operations, and high-value targeting. So we see Bush's favorite mercenary army continuing to work, even inside of Pakistan, today.

SCHULTZ: So it's so detailed. At least it sounds like it's so detailed. There's no way the president could get out of this, because it effects two operations, one in Afghanistan and one in Pakistan. They go hand in hand.

SCAHILL: I think what you're seeing here is part of what Vice President Biden has advocated, which is essentially a refocusing on Pakistan. So this would certainly be consistent with the Biden influence on the president's thinking here.

But, Ed, you know, you have the circle of love going on your show tonight. I have to respectfully disagree with you, although I share the love with you, and put something cold and hard on the table here. That is that we have an equal number of contractors that are going to be going to Afghanistan with the surge. The Blackwaters of the world are going to continue to do this business. We're not talking about 100,000 American personnel, Ed. We're talking about 200,000, at cost of 100 billion dollars a year, to fight down 100 al Qaeda guys in Afghanistan, according to General Jones.

SCHULTZ: OK. The president made the case last night security along the border is going to be paramount to success in that region. Whether we use Blackwater or whether we use US military forces, you don't think this can be done?

SCAHILL: I think we really have to have a sober discussion in this country about how our actions in that region are destabilizing not only Pakistan, but Afghanistan, itself. If you read the Taliban and al Qaeda's press releases on Obama's speech, they're saying, thank you for doing this. You are our greatest recruiting tool we have right now. Our numbers are going to swell because of this.

I think we have to have a much more serious discussion. Ed, I hope you hold the Democrats-as accountable as you were holding Senator Boxer on health care, hold them accountable like that on the war spending.

SCHULTZ: Well, I'm going to do that. The reason why I'm doing this is because the president was up front on the campaign trail. This is what he wanted to do. He couldn't-he's a man of honor. He couldn't back off on it. He gave us a timetable of 18 months. I think he deserves the first move.

SCAHILL: I think, Ed, had he just come out and announced that timetable, and not announced the 30,000, I think he would have had a heck of a lot of support among progressives.

SCHULTZ: Jeremy, great work. Got to run. Got to have you back.

Thank you.

Tonight I asked our audience, I want to know what you think.

Tonight's text survey, "do you trust that we'll leave Afghanistan in 2012?

Fifty eight percent said yes; 42 percent of you 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 our radio website at WeGotEd.com. "HARDBALL's" next with Chris Matthews. We'll see you tomorrow night.

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

END

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