updated 12/31/2009 11:40:36 AM ET 2009-12-31T16:40:36

Guests: Bob Shrum, Sam Stein, Jack Rice, Jamie Smith, Joe Madison, Ron

Christie, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Stephen A. Smith

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  Good evening, Americans.  And welcome to THE ED SHOW tonight from Minneapolis.

Adrian Peterson did not fumble last night!  I just had to get that off my chest.

All right.  The year 2009 is almost history, and tonight I‘m going to announce the recipient of the first-ever Eddy Awards.  No, we‘re not making a big deal about this, but my picks for the biggest political winners and losers of this year.

Now, a new Gallup poll is out that shows who Americans think really is the losers and takes the title this year.  About half the country thinks House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Republicans in Congress are political losers.  Those opinions are split along party lines. 

But the Republicans and the Democrats did agree on one thing.  The White House State Dinner crashers got bipartisan support as the biggest losers of 2009.  Seventy percent of the people, well, put them in the “loser” column.  I think they might have been mad they weren‘t invited to the State Dinner. 

Now, my biggest loser pick and the winner of the first Eddy Award of the evening—and this one hurts—John Edwards.  Edwards wasn‘t in the Gallup poll, but if this guy isn‘t the biggest political losers of 2009, I don‘t know who is. 

Remember this?  Remember back in Michigan last year when he was kind of laying low for a while, and then he came out and endorsed Barack Obama?  He was a political force.  And I thought at the time, you know, this guy is still going to help the cause, he can still be effective. 

There was a lot of talk about him being, hey, maybe the vice presidential pick.  But his infidelity sunk his chances and his downhill slide, well, it got steeper this year with an investigation into whether he used campaign cash to keep the affair a secret and increasing evidence that he fathered a child with his mistress. 

Just a bad deal all the way around.  What a political travesty, because I think that John Edwards could have been a powerful voice this year as a Washington outsider. 

Being a former senator, being out on the campaign trail, knowing what the people want, I think he could have been a greater voice than Howard Dean.  But he blew it. 

And John Edwards, that‘s why you‘re my pick for the biggest loser of the year in politics.  We could have used you when it came to fighting for health care reform in this country. 

Now for the winners of 2009. 

Now, taking the top spot in the Gallup poll is Michelle Obama.  Good for her.  Seventy-three percent of Americans think she‘s a winner.  So do I. 

But the Eddy Award for the biggest winner of 2009 -- yes!  Sarah Palin. 

Why?  Well, look, just look at what she has pulled off this year. 

She has gone national almost every day.  She‘s got Alaska in the rearview mirror.  Talking about getting rid of a job, she‘s a pro at that. 

Sarah Palin, she has made a ton of money by playing what?  Playing to her base.  And she not only kept her name out there almost on a daily basis, and got national attention whenever she wanted it, I mean, she has increased her name recognition big-time. 

Tell me where she‘s lost.  Tell me where Sarah Palin has lost. 

No, no, no.  She takes the award for 2009. 

And a quick look ahead to next year.

Midterm elections are going to be coming up, and a blast from the past.  This might shock you, but I think it‘s going to happen.  The bounce-back of the year is going to be—that‘s right—antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan. 

She ran against Nancy Pelosi in 2008, and I think that she just might mix it up again.  And the way people feel about Nancy Pelosi, gosh, she could just peel off just enough disgruntled progressives out on the West Coast in that district that it might be trouble for the Speaker of the House. 

Tell me what you think in our telephone survey tonight, folks.  The number to dial is 1-877-ED-MSNBC. 

The question tonight is: I think Sarah Palin is 2009‘s biggest political winner.  Do you agree?  Do you agree? 

Press “1” for yes and press “2” for no.  I‘ll bring you the results later on the show, later tonight. 

Now, for more on this year‘s political winners and losers, let me bring in Democratic strategist and former senior adviser to the Kerry/Edwards campaign in 2004, Bob Shrum. 

Bob, great to have you with us tonight. 

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Happy New Year two days early. 

SCHULTZ:  There you go. 

I‘m jumping the gun on this yearend story, so to speak, the winners and losers, because we‘ve got other stuff coming up the next couple of nights.  And I wanted to talk to you about this because you worked in the Kerry Kerry/Edwards campaign. 

I mean, my guts hurt tonight, Bob.  They hurt.

When John Edwards came out and supported Barack Obama, of course he did very well in Iowa.  He beat Hillary Clinton in Iowa.  He was second there. 

He ran out of money, but he had a way with the middle class.  And he had a way to really communicate with people that were having a tough time in America.  And I think that his absence in 2009 was just a political travesty. 

What do you think? 

SHRUM:  Well, I think this was going to happen anyway.  I don‘t think he would have been there as an independent Washington voice.  If the scandal hadn‘t occurred, what he wanted to do, I think, was be attorney general in an Obama administration so he‘d very much be on the inside. 

This is an incredible human tragedy, as well as a political train wreck.  I worked for John Edwards in his first Senate campaign.  I handled it in 1998.  And I think he had a hard time for a while figuring out, once he got to the Senate, what he was about. 

I mean, in 2004, he kind of ran as a DLC Democrat.  In 2008, he kind of ran as an Ed Schultz Democrat. 

And I think you‘re probably a little bit too optimistic that he would have been that outside independent voice pushing the administration.  I think he wanted to be inside. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes.

Who was the biggest political winner this year, Bob?  Who do you see as someone that could put up a “Mission Accomplished” banner, if you say? 

SHRUM:  Well, I don‘t know that anybody can put up a “Mission Accomplished” banner, but I‘ll give my Shrummy Award, if I can call it that...

SCHULTZ:  OK.  I love it. 

SHRUM:  ... to Barack Obama.  And I‘ll tell you why. 

People are going to say, oh, there he goes, he‘s in the tank.  But the fact is that we‘re going to look back on this year as the historic first year of a presidency that changes the direction of the country. 

He‘s going to have passed an economic stimulus package that‘s going to lead to a very strong economic recovery, going to be felt by the middle of this year in terms of jobs.  He‘s going to pass a health care bill which, however imperfect, is going to make historic change and can be improved on.  And he‘s restored America‘s respect in the world. 

That‘s a pretty amazing set of achievements for someone who‘s handled one of the worst situations of any president since FDR. 

SCHULTZ:  And what about the—of course, in the Gallup poll, the three top political losers this year, the party crashers, Mark Sanford, the governor of South Carolina, and also Joe Wilson. 

I have to say that the Joe Wilson story really intrigues me because you say some good things, and I think you‘re correct on Obama.  I can‘t disagree with any of those.  I think the president has had a very effective first year. 

But he went to the Congress, the joint session of the Congress, to talk about health care, to grab the bully pulpit, maybe turn the tide in many respects.  And this comment, “You lie!” turned out to be the story for the next several weeks. 

Your thoughts on that? 

SHRUM:  Well, I think that 61 percent negative in the Gallup poll for Wilson tells you that what was involved here for the Republicans—and I think it‘s what they‘re doing across the board—is short-term gain, long-term pain.  They have bet al their chips on being the party of no and on the idea that economic recovery‘s not going to occur. 

I think the recovery‘s already taking hold.  I think we‘re going to see major job gains in the next few months.  I think by next summer, we can have an unemployment rate that‘s down around seven percent, maybe a little more, maybe a little less. 

And at that point, I think voters are going to look at the Republican Party and they‘re going to be pretty angry.  They‘re going to say, you never helped with this, you tried to block all of it.  And Joe Wilson is going to be a poster boy for that. 

SCHULTZ:  Bob Shrum, always a pleasure.  Have a great new year.  We‘re going to be calling on you a lot, and I appreciate your time.  Thanks so much. 

SHRUM:  Thanks, Ed.  Enjoyed it. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet. 

Now let‘s turn to Sam Stein, political reporter for “The Huffington Post.”  He‘s boots on the ground on Capitol Hill. 

Let‘s talk about who the winners and the losers have been in 2009 on Capitol Hill. 

Sam, who do you pick for the Capitol Hill winners this year? 

SAM STEIN, POLITICAL REPORTER, “THE HUFFINGTON POST”:  I have a small list, Ed. 

It starts with Al Franken.  And I put Al on there because he came into the Senate with united GOP hysteria over the possibility that he would actually be elected.  He squeaked by, by a couple hundred votes.  And he‘s done yeomen-like work in the background and actually got a big legislative achievement with that amendment to the defense appropriations bill which prohibits business with contractors who don‘t allow rape victims to have their day in court. 

He‘s a winner. 

Another winner is the faithful male politician.  I put that in there because there are so many unfaithful ones, that the faithful ones deserve a little shout-out.  You know, they deserve the love as well. 

I also have there health care lobbyists.  You know, these people were essentially paid millions upon millions upon millions of dollars to derail health care reform.  And for better or worse, they actually succeeded in watering it down. 

I think Nancy Pelosi...

SCHULTZ:  One thing about Al Franken, I think Al Franken taught the country a lesson in patience. 

STEIN:  Yes.

SCHULTZ:  I mean, this guy had tremendous—when they kept going through that process in Minnesota, it was day after day, the methodical.  A lot of people were bugging him to talk and to get after it.  He maintained his poise and his discipline and let the process play out. 

I mean, if anybody taught the country how to be patient, it was Al Franken. 

STEIN:  And how unexpected from Al Franken.  I mean, Al Franken, the comedian, was the one who was quiet through the process.  It was a teachable moment, as they say. 

SCHULTZ:  Who are the losers on Capitol Hill this year, Sam?  What do you think? 

STEIN:  All right, losers. 

I have Parker Griffith, the former Alabama Democrat-turned-Republican.  You know, this guy really learned the downside of opportunism.  As soon as he switched parties, he‘s being attacked by the GOP.  There are serious questions about whether he‘s actually going to get that nomination.  We‘ll see what happens.

Mitch McConnell, another loser.  Historically, the minority party should be at much better popularity rankings right now, but he‘s taken obstructionism to a new level.  And I don‘t think the Republican brand has benefited from it.

I also have the Senate staffer as a loser, and I say that because I did a piece about a couple weeks ago about Senate staffers have had their personal lives literally ruined by a 10-month health care reform process.  One quick tale.  There‘s someone on the Senate Finance Committee who had to be handed a key to his dry cleaners because he wasn‘t home ever during their hours of operation.  So they would let him in when the store was closed so that he could pick up his dry cleaning.

That‘s a loss in my book.  You can‘t have a person who looks like that.

So they‘re the big losers, even though we should thank them for all the work they put in.

SCHULTZ:  Sam Stein, you‘ve also got your national winners—Hillary Clinton.  You list Hillary Clinton.  I agree with that.  I think she‘s been a team player. 

STEIN:  Sure.

SCHULTZ:  I mean, Hillary—I mean, the disappointment of not getting the nomination, the disappointment of not being the nominee, and going after it and being in the mix, to come back and to be a team player—and she‘s made a real impact and helped the Obama administration with some overseas trips and has been received very well. 

I think she‘s really helped the United States gain the moral high ground and set a course in a new direction.  I think you‘re right on that. 

Dick Armey, tell me about that one.  You think Dick Armey.  What‘s happening there? 

STEIN:  OK.  Listen, Dick Armey, for a few years, was rather irrelevant to the political process.  He managed to corporatize the Tea Party movement, essentially funding through big corporations, ostensibly, a grassroots movement that was anti-government. 

Now, all of a sudden, he‘s quoted on all these Sunday shows, he‘s relevant once more, he‘s the voice of the Tea Party movement.  You know, to do that, to be able to pull that off without anyone really noticing the irony...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ:  It‘s got to be the cowboy hat.

STEIN:  Yes, it was definitely the cowboy hat.  I think if anyone wore a cowboy hat like that, they‘d be a winner.  So, yes.  I mean, it‘s just amazing that he put himself back into the process. 

And one thing about a loser, my loser of the year is Greg Craig, unfortunately.  This is a guy who was sort of the voice of human rights, of civil liberties in the Obama White House.  He was the one who was going to close Gitmo. 

He was also the one who was forefront in banning torture.  And what happened was he was unceremoniously pushed from the White House, let go, not even a year into his tenure as White House counsel.  So, unfortunately, I think for the country, he is the loser this year.  And that‘s a sad thing. 

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

Appreciate your time.

STEIN:  Thanks, Ed.  Happy New Year, man. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet, my man.

All right.  Coming up, the attempted terror attack has got some Republicans screaming that racial profiling is the solution.  I‘ll put this to a former air marshal instructor and CIA officer in just a moment. 

And, as the president‘s popularity plummets, Michelle Obama, I‘ll tell you what, she is so popular.  What are people talking about there? 

That‘s all coming up.  Stay with us. 

And, of course, “Psycho Talk” tonight.  I‘ve got a great “Playbook.” 

Stephen A. Smith in the house. 

It‘s all coming up on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

I‘ve got a commentary on air travel coming up in just a few moments. 

President Obama took to the microphone for the second straight day this afternoon to address the failed airline terror plot. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  When our government has information on a known extremist, and that information is not shared and acted upon as it should have been so that this extremist boards a plane with dangerous explosives that could have cost nearly 300 lives, a systemic failure has occurred.  And I consider that totally unacceptable. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  We now have pictures of the undergarments that the suspect actually sewed the explosive device into.  Some experts are insisting that we implement body screening and even profiling in order to prevent another lapse of security. 

Joining me now for more on that is former air marshal instructor and CEO of SGC International, Mr. Jamie Smith, with us tonight.  Also with us is former CIA officer Jack Rice.  He‘s joining us tonight as well. 

Mr. Smith, good to have you on tonight. 

Air marshals may not have been able to stop this certain situation, but do you think that they really do play an effective role in a line of defense to keep any kind of mischief happening or a terrorist attack happening on an airliner? 

JAMIE SMITH, FMR. AIR MARSHAL INSTRUCTOR:  Absolutely they play a role, Ed.  They‘re the last resort though. 

The airport has to have a concentric layer of security.  And the air marshal, if they have to get involved, then as the president alluded to earlier today, there has been a systemic failure, because the individual should never have been allowed on the plane in the first place.  You don‘t need the air marshal to get involved.  You need to stop them before they ever even get past security and enter in the gate area. 

SCHULTZ:  You know, Jamie, the president today was talking about how information was not passed along in the system.  It would seem to me that if an air marshal were boarding a plane and there was somebody on the terror watch list, or a person of interest, wouldn‘t it be good for the sky marshal to know exactly who‘s on that plane?  Wouldn‘t it be good for the airline pilot to know what the heck is going on, along with the flight attendants? 

I mean, it appears to me that this has been a major wake-up call that we‘ve got holes all throughout the system.  We‘ve got a lot of work to do, and the president alluded to the fact that the systems that we‘ve had in place for a long time are pretty much antiquated. 

What are your thoughts? 

SMITH:  Well, yes, the air marshal and the cabin crew, the air marshal specifically, though, needs to have that information.  I also have worked at the Central Intelligence Agency, and Jack can speak to this as well, but there has to be an information-sharing system in place.  And there is, but in this case it did not function as designed. 

The marshals have to have the information as to who the suspected questionable people on the aircraft might be.  But again, it really—aviation security takes place on the ground.  You don‘t want to have to do it in the air, because you‘re in a tubular environment, there‘s no way to go.  And you either win the fight or the plane goes down. 

So, you don‘t want to get to that point. 

SCHULTZ:  Jack Rice, former CIA officer, also with us tonight. 

The sharing of information—Jack, I thought we rearranged government after the September 11, 2001 attack on the twin towers in Manhattan in this country because there wasn‘t enough information sharing, so we had to rearrange government and come up with the Department of Homeland Security and all this great oversight.  Lo and behold, look what we‘ve got on our hands. 

How tough is it for the CIA to do information sharing with other agencies on a need-to-know basis? 

JACK RICE, FMR. CIA OFFICER:  Well, see, that‘s exactly the problem.  What we continue to do is to have this sort of Cold War concept of “need to know,” whereas what we need now is the ability to be able to share that information. 

I mean, if we think about this particular case, this guy, I mean what we know now of course is he paid cash.  Guess what?  There is a hint. 

He buys his ticket in Ghana.  How about that one?  There is a hint. 

He only comes on with his carry-on bag.  There‘s a hint. 

His father says there is a problem.  There‘s the visa.  The list goes on and on. 

There are so many specific instances of intelligence that are simply not shared, not established, not determined, that it makes me wonder how we can do just about anything.  The level of incompetence here is pretty extraordinary. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, how about Great Britain?  Great Britain denied him entry into the country.  You would think that the Brits, which is historically probably about our best ally since the country started, that we‘d be able to share some information there with the Brits. 

RICE:  Yes, you would think so.  By the way...

SCHULTZ:  Go ahead.

RICE:  No—by the way, I mean, that was part of this, too.  If we think about the Brits, who actually refused the visa, they actually let U.S. intelligence know that.  So they had this information, too.  It‘s just the inability to sort of connect all of this. 

I mean, what we‘re seeing right now is a shocking overreaction across the country.  What, I can‘t put a blanket on?  If I need to go to the bathroom, I better do it within the last hour?  I better not have any carry-ons?  All of those things. 

If you think about what we already have in place, what actually exists, if we simply sat down and said, all right, what do we have, what did we know, we could have stopped this when he was in Nigeria.  We could have stopped this in Amsterdam before he‘s flying over Detroit.  I mean, it‘s amazing. 

SCHULTZ:  All right, gentlemen.  Let‘s turn to racial profiling, or any kind of profiling, if we can. 

There are members of Congress right now who are bringing up this subject.  Here‘s a couple of them. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER KING ®, NEW YORK:  I think there are situations like this where we are afraid of being accused of profiling.  The fact is, while the overwhelming majority of Muslims are outstanding people, on the other hand, 100 percent of the Islamic terrorists are Muslims.  And that is our main enemy today. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE EMERSON, TERRORIST EXPERT:  There have been so many complaints about “profiling” by Islamic civil rights groups that they stop, basically, profiling, and that basically led to not putting this guy on to the terrorist watch list. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Peter King, of course, is not alone in his thoughts on racial profiling, profiling of any kind.  And, of course, Mr. Emerson is a terrorist expert. 

Gentlemen, where do we stand on this? 

Mr. Smith, what do you think?  Have we gotten to a point where we pull people out of a line because they might look a certain way or they might be of a certain nationality?  What do you think? 

SMITH:  Well, profiling is nothing new.  You know, we don‘t want to do profiling based on race or based on ethnicity.  You do profiling based on behavior. 

You do it every day.  I do it every day.  If I walk down an alley and I see somebody in a dark alley, and they look a little suspicious, I change direction.  That‘s profiling. 

If I see a guy running out of a butcher shop with a bloody ax, you know, I‘m going to make a guestimation right there that that guy is either going to be a crazed ax murderer, or perhaps he‘s the butcher who‘s coming out to give change to the lady standing to my right.  But either way, I‘m going to make a guess, and that‘s profiling. 

Police officers do it.  We all do that. 

And so what we need to do is apply some common sense to the profiling concept, and you do it based on behavior. You do it based on clothing, you do it based on mannerism, you do it based on tone of voice.  You have to put qualified, trained personnel in front of the passengers and not have just a total reliance on technology.  But you do have to put some common sense and some intellect into this thing. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ:  No doubt.

Jack Rice, this is a political hot potato for the White House.  How far does the White House want to go with this kind of line of defense?  What do you think? 

RICE:  My response is they push back hard on what Peter King said, what Pete Hoekstra has said.  I mean, there is no room for racial profiling in this country. 

Every study that I have seen—and I‘m a former prosecutor, too.  Every study that I have seen has shown that it‘s far more effective to follow what it is that people do rather than what they look like.  And if we think about it in the broad picture now, let me see if we get this right. 

If we‘re going to racially profile, we racially profile everybody across the Middle East.  Now we find that this young 23-year-old man from Nigeria—most of Nigeria is Christian, by the way.  So I guess what we‘re going to have to do is include all the people of Africa.  But now let‘s contemplate al Qaeda in the Philippines, so now we have to include all the people in Southeast Asia.  So now we have about four billion people. 

Look, I think when people make an argument for racial profiling, they‘re either lazy, they‘re either arrogant, or, frankly, they‘re racists.  This is a foolish idea, and the worst part of it all is that what we‘re going to do is alienate about 1.5 billion Muslims.  We desperately need these people on our side.  If we go down that path, we‘re in a very, very serious problem. 

SCHULTZ:  Jack Rice, Jamie Smith, great to have you on tonight. 

Appreciate your time. 

SMITH:  Good to be with you.

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, millions of Americans, including myself, are now facing unnecessary inconveniences because of a few bad apples.  I‘ll tell you what I think the federal government should do to reward the passengers who obey the law and play by the rules. 

That‘s next.  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Several weeks ago, the president asked for ideas about stimulating business and turning the economy around.  Well, I hope the president is willing to listen to some other ideas as well.  Now I don‘t think the entire security issue in this country is brain surgery.  In fact, I think it can be made very simple.  You know, how about a national traveler‘s ID card? That‘s not going to be mandatory.  Don‘t get scared here.  It is not a government takeover.  You can sign up for it if you want to. 

You see, we travel a lot, my wife and I.  And we‘re not terrorists and we don‘t cause any trouble.  In fact, we like to stay out of the way.  So why can‘t the Department of Homeland Security issue travel cards to American citizens who request them?  Make it easy to travel.  Help the economy out.  Move things along. 

I don‘t think law abiding citizens of this country should be hassled at airports because some jackass decided he wanted to cause some trouble somewhere else.  Now at 30 Rock at NBC in New York City, I can‘t get into the building unless I have this card scanned through the machine.  It even has my picture and an ID number, my name.  And the guard can look at it and say, you‘re not, Ed, heck, you‘re not going in.  It‘s so easy. 

I think we could have a better security system that would move people through the lines a lot faster with an airline security card.  I think the Department of Homeland Security should start thinking about the passengers who aren‘t a problem, instead of always focusing on those jerks who are the problem. 

You can card me.  You can run me through any machine you want.  I‘ll even take off my clothes—well, not really.  But I just—just do me a favor.  Don‘t make me wait.  Don‘t inconvenience me because, you know, I play by the rules and I obey the law.  And by the way, I‘m willing to pay for this card if you give me a chance.  So what do you think, Mr.  President?  Good idea?

Coming up, a five-term senator and former presidential candidate is on the ropes for 2010.  Guess who put him there?  Someone associated with the WWE? 

And a major college football coach has been sidelined right before his big bowl game.  Stephen A. Smith will talk us through that major head case in the playbook.

All that plus the Drugster lands in Psycho Talk again?  You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Thanks for watching tonight.  The 2010 midterm elections are right around the corner.  Some of the most powerful Democrats are in danger of losing their seats.  In Connecticut, for instance, Senator Chris Dodd is in bad shape, even according to his own campaign‘s internal polling.  He‘s tied with former WWE CEO, Republican Linda McMahon, wife of Vince, at 46 percent?  And Dodd is also trailing former Republican Congressman Rob Simmons, 46 to 51 percent. 

How about in Arkansas?  Senator Blanche Lincoln of that state is also in trouble.  A Daily Kos Research 2000 poll has her at just one point ahead of the front-runner for the Republican nomination, State Senator Gilbert Baker.  And that‘s been the best case scenario.  Other polls have her trailing her potential Republican opponents.  And there is a lot of them, ten of them in fact. 

For more on the biggest 2010 trouble zones, let me bring in our panel tonight, XM radio talk show host Joe Madison with us, and Republican strategist Ron Christie.  Great to have you guys on tonight.

Joe, if you‘re a Democrat, and you‘re running for re-election, what do you do?  What‘s the best strategy in this environment, in your opinion? 

JOE MADISON, XM RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  The best strategy is to talk jobs, talk employment.  That‘s really going to turn 2010.  It‘s simple as that.  I think that will be the issue for this midterm election. 

SCHULTZ:  Ron Christie, you‘re running against Joe Madison in a hypothetical race for a Senate seat. 

MADISON:  Oh, he lost. 

RON CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  I won that already. 

SCHULTZ:  Jim Moran tried to talk me into it last night.  I‘m not the only one that‘s going to get hooked on this.  I‘m roping you two guys into this tonight.  Ron Christie, you‘re running for office.  What do you do?  What‘s your best play at this point? 

CHRISTIE:   I think the best play right now is talking about the economy, as Joe just said, but also recognizing, since I‘m a Republican and I‘m going up against another opponent, I‘m going to say that the Democrats have had control of Washington, DC, the White House, for the last year and the Congress for the last three years, and they have done nothing, as far as I‘m concerned, to help stimulate the economy, to get the job creation going, and that we need a new voice and a new change.  And that‘s all about the economy and getting people back to work. 

MADISON:  And I‘m going to respond by saying that no one will ever get elected in this country just simply saying no.  If you notice, one thing my respectful opponent didn‘t say was what was he going to do to change things?  I mean come on!  You‘re right, we had it only for a year and a half, and we watched eight years of the Bush administration.  And I know, the argument is you can‘t keep blaming Bush.  But the reality is, yes, we can.  And that‘s why we‘ve got to turn it around. 

But you cannot get—even Newt Gingrich had a contract, what was it - it was a Contract with America.  You can‘t get elected just saying no. 

CHRISTIE:  I agree with that, Joe.  If you listen to what I just said, I didn‘t say no.  I think it is very important for the American people to hear from their potential elected officials.  What is their vision?  What is their strategy?  How can they move the country forward?  It is not just saying George Bush.  That‘s tired old rhetoric.  It‘s how can we move this country forward constructively?  How can we usher in that era of bipartisanship that Speaker Pelosi promised and failed to deliver on, and President Obama talked about. 

I think that‘s why Chris Dodd is in trouble.  It think that‘s why Blanche Lincoln is in trouble.  I think these people back in Arkansas and Connecticut campaigned as moderates, campaigned to show a different vision for America.  And they came to Washington and displayed politics and partisanship as usual. 

SCHULTZ:  History is going to be working against the Democrats in 2010, Joe.  What‘s the best play for those who are in trouble?  The reality is you guys aren‘t running, and neither am I.  But if you were advising Chris Dodd right now, what‘s the best play? 

MADISON:  I think Chris Dodd can play with the—again, the whole issue of the health care.  If he pulls the public option rabbit out of the hat, I think that he can gain a margin that he will need to overcome that tie that he has.  He lives in a state that has a lot of health care insurance money that‘s gone against him.  I think that‘s what you see at play now. 

Arkansas, I really don‘t know.  I think some of these—I think Dodd‘s in trouble for different reasons than Lincoln is in trouble. 

SCHULTZ:  Yeah.  Let‘s look at some of these numbers.  The Nevada poll, the Mason-Dixon poll, 2010, Nevada state race, it‘s brutal for Harry Reid.  He‘s down by 10 percent.  Also, you have got Harry Reid against Danny Tarkanian.  He is also down there, 48-42 against that opponent. 

In Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter—Pat Toomey, who was way down in the polls a long time ago, has now pulled even with Arlen Specter and Arlen Specter is polling very well against Joe Sestak.  So it just appears that everybody in 2010 is going to have a hard time hanging on.  I have to pick up what you said, Joe, to Ron Christie.  Ron, what have the Republicans done to put yourself in a favorable position, when all the party has done is say no, and say no to everything that Barack Obama wants to do, and really hasn‘t come up with anything.  Are you planning on winning by default?  What‘s the play? 

CHRISTIE:  I think Republicans, if you looked over the last year, have tried to actually be very constructive in working with President Obama and his administration.  And that hand that‘s been reached out by the Republicans hasn‘t been reciprocated with the Democrats.  But let‘s just talk about the main issue. 

MADISON:  Are we in the same city, Ron? 

CHRISTIE:  No.  Actually, I‘m in New York. 

MADISON:  OK, I was going to say.  Man.

CHRISTIE:  The fact of the matter is Republicans have said we can actually bend the cost curve on health care costs by allowing people to buy insurance across state lines.  That‘s been rejected.  If you look at the economy, the Republicans have talked very specifically about ways of having a stimulus package, but making sure that that money goes into targeted areas for infrastructure, not for pork projects. 

SCHULTZ:  But the question, Ron, is what have the Republicans done in the last year to gain favor with voters, other than to say that anything Obama wants to do, it won‘t work? 

CHRISTIE:  I think Republicans have gained favor with the American people and regained trust with the American people by drawing contrasts and distinctions with what the Democrats want to do, and how that would cripple the economy, rather than stimulate the economy.  There are a lot of different competing ideas out there.  President Obama has a large share of the blame here for not allowing Republicans to sit at the table. 

SCHULTZ:  Joe, we got to go.  Quick comment. 

MADISON:  If the economy turns around, we start to see employment in March, Republicans can just kiss it good-bye, because that will be the key issue. 

CHRISTIE:  It won‘t turn around by March. 

SCHULTZ:  Gentlemen, always a pleasure.  Appreciate your time.

Joining me now is presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. 

Doris, nice to have you on tonight.  There‘s so much going to be flying around in 2010.  And I think just about anything works right now when it comes to commentary.  But from a historical perspective, are the Democrats really in a tough position?  You‘ve got a president, by some marks, has had a pretty historical first year, and has weathered quite a storm, and was handed really something that very few presidents have been handed.  The country was in an absolute mess. 

Doris, where are the Democrats?  Are they actually in better shape than what some people might give them going into 2010? 

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  I would argue that they are.  I think if you take it at this exact moment, when we‘re still mired in the details of the health care bill, and the messy process, and the need to make special deals to make it happen, if that gets passed and what we‘re focused on is what was in the bill, and that it was an historic bill, that shifts. 

If the jobs come back, as was just said before, and we‘re beginning to see an upturn in the economy, things are going to look a lot different.  And I think Obama‘s going to be able to look back on this year and say that it really was an historic year. 

I mean so interesting, Ed, when you think about the fact that JFK, like Obama, came in, both young, both articulate, both with liberal goals. 

JFK had a disastrous first year, disastrous at the Bay of Pigs, a failed

summit in Vienna, an inability to stop the Berlin Wall.  He said, actually,

when somebody said to him, we‘re writing a lot of books on your first year

he said, who‘s going to want to read a book about disasters? 

Yet, he had a 78 percent approval at the end of that first year, which shows, in some ways, the difference in the media.  It shows how tough we are right now in looking at every little detail.  I think when perspective is gained on this first year, and what might have been accomplished if the health care thing gets through, and then if Obama is able then to focus—

I would advise him, go very strong on financial reform.  He‘s got to get that base. 

The reason Democrats, or any party that‘s in power loses during a midterm elections is because turnout falls way down.  He has to get turnout up the way it was during the general election.  And he‘s got to energize that base again, the Democratic base. 

SCHULTZ:  One number that really jumps out at us, Doris, in the Gallup poll is that 73 percent favorable, Michelle Obama, the First Lady, very popular in the first year.  If you look back on the campaign trail, she was active.  She gave some very passionate speeches.  This has got to be a plus.  Isn‘t it?  For the president and for the democrats?  How big of a role could she play or, in historically speaking, First Ladies with good, popular numbers helped in the past? 

GOODWIN:  I think what she‘s been able do in this first year is what she promised she was going to do, to make a home for her husband and her children.  She‘s allowed herself to not be polarizing or political.  Now she‘s got that base of popular approval behind her.  And I‘ll bet you she‘s going to become more and more active as the months and years go by. 

She‘s too intelligent, too passionate, too much of a career in public service to not want to use those talents in public life.  But in contrast to Hillary Clinton, or Eleanor Roosevelt, who right out of the bat came out with polarizing civil rights or health care, and, thus, lost some popular approval, she‘s now got that base underneath her that will give her a certain kind of credibility as she begins to become more active in the months ahead. 

I think definitely she‘ll be a help for him. 

SCHULTZ:  Doris Kearns Goodwin, always a pleasure.  Have a great New Year.  We‘ll see you in 2010. 

GOODWIN:  Same to you, Ed!

SCHULTZ:  You bet. 

Coming up, most of America is ready to put this touch decade in the rear-view mirror.  Psycho talker of the millennium is ready for a second serving of the Bush economy?  Cut me some slack.  You know where that lands him.  Psycho talk is next.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  In psycho talk tonight, we‘re bringing back the Drugster.  I know some of you may be looking to get your Rush fix since he‘s been spending holiday time with his cat Pumpkin.  So I‘ve got a great clip for you tonight.  Right before Rush went on vacation, he decided to rewrite the history of both Bush presidencies. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  When Clinton won the presidency in 1992, in that election, he said something like the era of greed and selfishness is over.  He was talking about the eight years of prosperity.  Actually 12 years.  Well, second-term Reagan and first-term Bush, only-term Bush.  Eight years of prosperity.  The era of greed and selfishness is over. 

Now after eight years of prosperity under Bush 43, we are again seeing the seething hate for profits.  And this is—the left never changes.  It‘s who they are. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  The left doesn‘t have a seething hate for profits.  We do have a seething hate for the people who make those profits and then turn and screw up the entire economy and, the country for that matter.  The banking industry comes to mind on that one. 

And the Drugster must have been popping pills during both Bush administrations to think that they were years of prosperity.  George Bush Sr. presided over a recession from July 1990 until March of 1991.  And his boy W got two recessions, one on the front end of the presidency, one on the back end of the presidency. 

Rush, maybe the Bush years were prosperous for folks like you, but to suggest that it was really good for the entire country, psycho talk, buddy. 

Coming up, a college football player gets a concussion and winds up locked in an electrical closet by his own coach?  Stephen A. Smith will tell us what the heck that‘s all about and what the ramifications are and some political commentary next in the playbook.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  In my playbook tonight, Texas Tech has suspended head football coach Mike Leech from all duties including coaching in the upcoming Alamo Bowl.  The school is currently investigating complaints made by receiver Adam James while he was unable to practice due to a concussion.  James claims that on two separate occasions he was forced to stand in a small, dark place for hours on end as punishment for his injury while the team practiced.  James says that someone was ordered to watch him in the closet to be sure that he didn‘t try to sit down or make himself more comfortable. 

For more on this story, let‘s bring in Stephen A. Smith, nationally syndicated radio talk show host and columnist for “The Philadelphia Inquirer.”  Stephen A., when I first saw this story and read about it, I thought that the coach was trying to run this kid off, doesn‘t want him in the program.  This is a program, Texas Tech, that was 11 and two this year.  This coach has got a big contract.  How do you see this story?  What‘s this all about in your opinion? 

STEPHEN A. SMITH, “THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER”:  Obviously, it is a coach that clearly had a problem with one of his players.  The fact is you‘ve got a lot of coaches out there who want you to play through injuries.  They get very disgusted when they hear that you‘re unable to practice or you‘re unable to play because, obviously, it is a lot of pressure on those coaches.  That‘s the thing that came to my mind. 

But also a level of idiocy definitely needs to get thrown into the equation because, if you‘re the coach, you better make sure you dot your Is and cross your Ts when one of your wide receivers, a red shirt sophomore receiver on your squad, happens to be the son of a college football analyst for ESPN and ABC, a man in Craig James who played for the New England Patriots in the NFL, who retired in 1989, who is very, very knowledgeable and very, very well connected to the college sports world.  And you know that if the Craig James family, or if the James family, rather, has filed a complaint, an official complaint, with the university and the university elected to act by suspending Coach Leech for Friday‘s Alamo Bowl game against Michigan State, you know there is something up. 

The details we don‘t know for sure.  Lawyers are involved now.  But clearly there‘s more to this situation than has even been reported. 

SCHULTZ:  Do you think his dad said you got to go public with this? 

SMITH:  I think his dad and his mom is the one - they‘re the ones going public with it, because they‘re the ones who filed the complaint to the university and basically forced the university to act.  Now, to take Leech‘s perspective, to some degree, remember, if he coaches in Friday‘s bowl game, he‘s owed 800,000 dollars.  That‘s a lot of money to save if you‘re Texas Tech University.  If you suspend him from the bowl game, that‘s 800,000 dollars you might believe you‘re saving, even though obviously his lawyers would definitely have a problem with that. 

SCHULTZ:  Stephen A., I just never heard of a coach retaliating against a player who has an injury. 

SMITH:  Oh, please, that‘s very—I wouldn‘t go to the extreme in terms of a concussion or whatever the case may be.  But there isn‘t a college athlete in America that couldn‘t tell you some kind of story where a coach has a problem with a player who is always hurt, who seems to be injured or whatever the case may be.  Coaches get on players all the time.  And they show their disgust with players in various different ways. 

This is obviously unique in terms of having him locked in a closet and things of that nature, or an electrical closet, as they put it.  But clearly there are coaches that have problems with players all the time. 

SCHULTZ:  Stephen A., quickly, your political winner of the year, your political loser of the year?  What‘s the call? 

SMITH:  I agree with you on both fronts.  I think Sarah Palin is definitely a political winner.  She was a vice presidential candidate.  She‘s still in the news despite losing the election.  I don‘t think there‘s any question about that. 

And the loser, I wanted to say Mark Sanford, obviously, but I agree with your pick as well.  The reality of the situation is, when you think about some of the things that have transpired, I look at a guy like Mark Sanford, some of the problems he‘s had, I‘m going through brain lock right now.  I forgot who I picked. 

SCHULTZ:  John Edwards. 

SMITH:  John Edwards.  John Edwards.  Wife suffering from cancer, you have an adulterous affair.  The love child.  It‘s bad. 

SCHULTZ:  It‘s a bad one.  Stephen A., good to have you on. 

Tonight‘s phone survey, I asked whether you agree with my take that Sarah Palin is 2009‘s biggest political winner.  What?  Only 14 percent of you said yes; 86 percent said no.  OK, I‘ll try again tomorrow night. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more go to our website at WeGotEd.com. 

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