updated 2/9/2010 10:00:59 AM ET 2010-02-09T15:00:59

Guests: John Heilemann, Steve McMahon, A.B. Stoddard, Eliot Spitzer, Rep.

Anthony Weiner, Sen. John Barrasso, Stephanie Miller, Lionel, Michael  Medved, Bill Press, David Rivkin.

HOST:  Good evening, Americans, and welcome to THE ED SHOW from New York tonight.

Hitting my hot buttons this evening, what to say about Sarah Palin‘s big speech at the Tea Party Nation in Tennessee over the weekend.  Let me check my hand—crazy, hypocritical, and thank God she‘s not the vice presidential candidate anymore. 

We‘ve got to get serious about this.  She could have been a heartbeat away from the presidency. 

Much more on that with “Game Change” author John Heilemann in just a moment. 

The Republicans claim that they want bipartisanship.  Well, President Obama, he‘s going to give them a shot at it on television—on national television.  I hope the GOP‘s health care plan is ready for prime time. 

Mitch McConnell has been running his mouth about the interrogation about the alleged Christmas Day bomber.  I wonder why he didn‘t speak up when he was briefed on it on Christmas night. 

All that is coming up on THE ED SHOW tonight. 

But first, we‘ve got to talk about Sarah Palin.  That‘s the story that has got everybody fired up. 

Sarah Palin, she just isn‘t really big on details.  She confuses Iraq with Iran, she really can‘t name a newspaper that she reads.  But this one really takes the cake.

At the Tea Party Nation Convention this weekend, she again criticized President Obama for using a teleprompter.  Then the cameras caught her looking at her hand.  She had written notes inside her palm to remind herself what she should talk about.  Golly—energy, deal with those tax cuts, and lift American spirits.

Sarah Palin was just a heartbeat away from the presidency.  Come on. 

But she needs crib notes to make a stump speech to a room full of fanatics? 

I just have to do this tonight.  I don‘t cheat like that. 

But Palin says that she just isn‘t any—this isn‘t just for any conservative group.  It‘s an American Revolution, part two. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN ®, FMR. ALASKAN GOVERNOR:  America is ready for another revolution, and you are a part of this. 

(APPLAUSE)

I look forward to attending more Tea Party events in the near future.  It is just so inspiring to see real people, not politicos, not inside-the-beltway professionals come out and stand up and speak out for commonsense conservative principles. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Oh, real people.  But she‘s on the Fox payroll, isn‘t she? 

I don‘t think Paul Revere paid a $500 admission fee to participate in the Tea Party, but Palin and all these Tea Party nuts forget one key thing in all of this.  After they threw that party way back when in the harbor, they went on and wrote the country. 

They wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and not in magic marker on their hand, I might add.  The founding fathers were thinkers, unlike Palin, and they had solutions, unlike Palin. 

She criticizes the bail bailout.  She says she supports small business.  But her party, are they on board with President Obama‘s plan to redirect $30 billion in TARP money to help small businesses?  I don‘t think so. 

Palin slammed the stimulus and pointed out that she rejected stimulus money for her state of Alaska even though her veto was returned by the Republican legislature.  Let‘s see, Alaska got $1.6 billion from the Recovery Act, which, according to officials, has created 1,500 jobs in that state. 

Palin says she wants to help real people in America?  Fifteen hundred more Alaskans are getting a paycheck, but she can‘t be happy about that because it would mean she‘d be supporting a Democratic president. 

Her embrace of populism is as phony as the outrage of the word “retarded.”  Using the “R” word is a fireable offense when it deals with Rahm Emanuel, but, of course, when Rush Limbaugh says it, oh, that‘s just funny.  He can do whatever he wants.

This is a woman who has just told Fox News that she‘s considering running for the presidency in 2012. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  I think that it would be absurd to not consider what it is that I can potentially do to help our country.  I don‘t know if it‘s going to be ever seeking a title, though.  It may just be doing a darn good job as a reporter or covering some of the current events.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS:  But you‘re going to consider.  You‘re going to go through the process of thinking...

PALIN:  I won‘t close the door that perhaps could be open for me in the future. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Now, does this mean that I could reopen the Senate talk about Ed in North Dakota?  I mean, what are the rules here? 

The RNC attorneys jumped all over my bosses at MSNBC, saying, hey, Ed is thinking about running for Senate.  You‘ve got to get him off the air. 

So why is it the DNC, going after Sarah Palin, when she‘s being paid by Fox News over there to spout whatever she wants to spout, but she‘s allowed to think about running for public office?  It is clearly a double standard. 

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

Tonight‘s text survey is: Do you want Sarah Palin to run for president in 2012? 

I‘m texting “A” for yes, and you can text “B” for no if you want—

622639 is the number.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show. 

Now, joining me now is John Heilemann, who is a national political correspondent for “New York Magazine.”  He is also the co-author of the best-selling book “Game Change.”

John, good to have you with us tonight. 

JOHN HEILEMANN, CO-AUTHOR, “GAME CHANGE”:  Good evening, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Is this the same candidate that you wrote about?  Is this the Sarah Palin you wrote about? 

HEILEMANN:  You know, there‘s a lot of similarities there, Ed.  And one of the things that we write about in the book is the various ways in which the McCain campaign became disenchanted with Sarah Palin as she—after they put her on the ticket and then they moved through the general election. 

One of the ways they became disenchanted with her was what they came to see as a trouble with the truth.  And I think some of your introduction laid out some of the ways in which she has if not—she didn‘t lie, I think, explicitly very much in this speech, but in terms of internal consistency and in terms of hypocrisy on the other side of that coin, there was that in spades, certainly, at the Tea Party Convention over the weekend. 

SCHULTZ:  Now, John, after writing the book and researching what she did on the campaign trail for the Republicans, what were your thoughts when you watched that on Saturday night and saw her crib notes on her hand and also the staged Q&A session?

What were you thinking? 

HEILEMANN:  Well, I thought that it‘s pretty much par for the course.  I mean, the things that make Sarah Palin appealing and strong as a figure in the Republican Party are not to do with her stances on policy issues—and she clearly has very few that are striking or consistent.  They are not certainly to do with her extemporaneous ability. 

What she did very well for John McCain was give a canned speech.  We saw that at the Republican Convention.  She gave a knockout address there.  And generally when she was scripted, she did very well. 

The three things that are—the funniest thing about it, beyond the hypocrisy, that you pointed out with respect to President Obama, it‘s just amazing to me that she needed to take crib notes on three words.  These are not complicated talking points she wrote down there.  She seemed to have a little trouble memorizing even those three simple words that she had there on her hand. 

SCHULTZ:  So, can we assume she‘s not a quick study? 

HEILEMANN:  You know, she actually was a relatively quick study.  As you know, she survived the Republican debate with Joe Biden, even though, as we reported in the book, she was close to kind of an emotional breakdown when she was doing the prep for that.  And eventually, the way she made it through, we talk about in the book, is she eventually just memorized answers to the 30 likeliest questions that they thought the debate moderators were going to give her.

It turned out they were really good at anticipating those questions

and she was pretty good at memorizing stuff on the dime.  But what she‘s

not good at is synthesizing complicated ideas and responding to questions -

anything that looks like a spontaneous question. 

SCHULTZ:  So what does it mean when she says she‘s considering running for president in 2012?  How are the Tea Partiers going to take that?  How should the Republicans take that? 

What do you think?

HEILEMANN:  I think we should all take it the same way.  I think she‘s considering running for president in 2012.

And I think that people who—there are a lot of people in our business, Ed, who have kind of laughed at the notion that she might seriously run in 2012.  They say, well, she‘s just doing this for money and she‘s just doing it for celebrity.  She‘s not doing the serious things you would need to do to make yourself a plausible candidate.

I don‘t think Sarah Palin thinks about it in that way.  I don‘t think she thinks it‘s inconsistent at all to become a TV talking head or to go around giving speeches that are completely substance-free.  She doesn‘t think those things are inconsistent with running for president. 

I wouldn‘t be surprised at all if she got it into her head that she was going to run and you find her out there in the field in 2012.  And as you suggest, I think many Democrats would greet that with a fair degree of applause, seeing in Sarah Palin a potential Barry Goldwater in 2012. 

SCHULTZ:  Actually, on Saturday night, when I was anchoring this in MSNBC, I thought it would have been a great lead-in to “Saturday Night Live,” but I don‘t run the place here. 

(LAUGHTER)

SCHULTZ:  Good to have you with us, John.  Thanks so much. 

HEILEMANN:  Always great to be here, Ed.  Thanks. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.

For more, let‘s bring in our panel tonight—Steve McMahon, Democratic strategist, and A.B. Stoddard with us, associate editor and columnist for “The Hill.”

Well, let me ask you, Steve.  You‘ve run campaigns, you‘ve been closely associated with candidates.  You‘ve got great experience in that arena. 

Is Sarah Palin a better candidate today than she was 15 months ago? 

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  No.  Apparently, she really hasn‘t learned that much. 

I think she‘s more a attractive candidate in some ways to the right wing crowd, the Tea Party crowd, ,because she goes out and she gives a nice speech.  But she‘s no more thoughtful, she‘s no more prepared.  And frankly, she‘s no more ready to answer serious questions than she was when she ran last time, which is really the big surprise. 

SCHULTZ:  A.B., why don‘t the Democrats be aggressive on some of the things that she was saying?  Now, Mr. Brennan came out on “MEET THE PRESS” yesterday and talked about national security and briefings and such stuff, and how this is all working.  But it seems to me that her mission on Saturday night was to just tear down the president of the United States. 

Should the Democrats pay attention to this?  Should they counter-punch?  What do you think? 

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, “THE HILL”:  No.  I think the Democrats have their own—you know, obviously the White House has its own messaging problem on health care, on national security issues, for sure.  And they are getting a lot of heat from elected members of the Republican Party and the Congress, and in governors‘ houses across this country.

I think they should answer to those people who have constituents and who are elected leaders in the other party, and who might take over the House of Representatives this fall, in the midterm elections, and answer those criticisms with them.  But I think they are wasting time taking on the Tea Party and Sarah Palin right now. 

SCHULTZ:  A.B., is the Tea Party outfit, whatever you want to call them—and they are not really an organized party.  I mean, it was a convention from folks around the country who just aren‘t happy with the way things are going—can they be taken more seriously after this weekend? 

STODDARD:  I don‘t know that Sarah Palin makes them more serious.  This is so interesting, also that she was talking up the election of Scott Brown. 

He never wanted her to campaign with him.  He tried to ignore any mention of her.  So, obviously, did Bob McDonnell, who won the governor‘s race in Virginia, in November.

The Tea Party backed a candidate in last week‘s primary election in Illinois.  He came in fifth.  And Mark Kirk, congressman from Illinois who was the more moderate of the group, and the establishment candidate the Tea Partiers were working against, he even voted for the Democrats‘ cap and trade bill, a toxic vote for any Republican in 2009 or ‘10, for sure.  And he prevailed with a very wide margin. 

So, the Tea Party is no powerhouse right now.  They are a disparate group of many different groups.  They are leaderless, and they have to find a way, obviously, to harness this anger and get organized to have a real impact on this election.  Just because Sarah Palin spoke there and they paid her $100,000, I don‘t think really changed their fortunes this weekend. 

SCHULTZ:  Yet, Steve, she said that she wanted the GOP to embrace what the Tea Party is all about.  And she said she supports this movement and says that we need a revolution in this country. 

How can she be taken seriously when she says stuff like that unless the GOP is ready to embrace all these things these Tea Partiers are talking about?  What do you think? 

MCMAHON:  Well, I think what we‘re seeing here is the evolution of Sarah Palin from a political candidate who might have a plausible political future to a political commentator who‘s trying to generate an audience and perhaps become the next Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, the female version.  And I really think that‘s what this is more about than positioning for president, because as you point out, she does take positions that frankly don‘t make any sense. 

For instance, she said that Barack Obama should invade Iran now if Barack Obama is serious about reelected.  Now, what serious presidential candidate goes out there and talks about invading another country, starting a war in the context of a presidential campaign?  She saying all kinds of things that please the right, that please the Tea Party movement, and she‘s trying to become the titular head of that movement.  But frankly, she doesn‘t have a place to go, I don‘t think, in the Republican Party, because once you get past a couple of the early, very conservative states with a lot of candidates, if it got to be a one-on-one in a serious Republican primary, I think even the Republicans would see through somebody who reads crib notes off of their hands.

SCHULTZ:  Steve McMahon, A.B. Stoddard, good to have you with us tonight. 

MCMAHON:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  Later in this broadcast we‘ll take a lighter side of the look of Sarah Palin with Stephanie Miller and Lionel.  Stay with us.

Now, coming up, well, he‘s back.  The Merrill Lynch CEO who redecorated his office for $1.2 million before selling the firm to Bank of America just landed a brand new gig. 

Eliot Spitzer will react to that in just a moment, and other issues. 

And the president is calling the Republicans‘ bluff on health care by televising their next meeting.  I‘ll face off with Senator John Barrasso at the bottom of the hour on that.

All that, plus Anthony Weiner, congressman from New York, will tell it like it is.

And “The Drugster” crash-lands in the psycho zone. 

It‘s all coming up on THE ED SHOW.  And I‘m not crib-noting tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

Merrill Lynch‘s former CEO John Thain is back in business.  In September of 2008, Thain sold his doomed company to Bank of America, then shortly afterwards was forced out of his job.  Now, a little over a year later, the guy who was famous for buying an $87,000 rug for his office has been hired to try and turn things around for the lending institution CIT.  The company just came out of bankruptcy in December and, of course, is still tied to constraints from the 2008 federal bailout. 

For more on that, let‘s go to former New York governor Eliot Spitzer. 

Mr. Spitzer, good to have you on tonight. 

ELIOT SPITZER (D), FMR. NEW YORK GOVERNOR:  A pleasure to be here. 

SCHULTZ:  Is this the right guy for the right job at the right time? 

What do you think?

SPITZER:  Well, look, I‘m just mystified by the fact that we keep going back to the same people who drove companies over the edge, into the ditch, cost taxpayers billions and billions of dollars.  Forget the $87,000.  He authorized the payment of multiple billions of dollars of bonuses to Merrill Lynch employees at the very moment they were going bankrupt, $20 billion of taxpayer money was required to facilitate that takeover by Bank of America. 

So, I suppose at one level you could say he did a great job for the company.  He gave  all the money to the employees.  Taxpayers bailed them out.  If you‘re a company employee, that sounds pretty good. 

From the perspective of public policy, this is absolutely insane, that we keep recycling the same folks who created the architecture of the bankrupt system and bringing them back to do it all over again. 

SCHULTZ:  It does look like the good old boys club, doesn‘t it? 

SPITZER:  Well, look, I mean, as I‘ve said from the very beginning, we‘ve got Ben Bernanke, we‘ve got Tim Geithner, we‘ve got Larry Summers, now we‘ve got John Thain.  None of them is corrupt or not—they may be incredibly smart.  They‘re just wrong. 

And in a way, from a policy perspective, being as fundamentally wrong as they‘ve been is even worse.  We have destroyed the infrastructure of our company.  There are no jobs being created.  The only wealth we‘ve had has been accelerated to a very small thin stratum of people at the very top.  This is crazy.

SCHULTZ:  Governor, I want to ask you, are we headed in the right direction?  A couple of grabs here, I would think, show that we are headed in the right direction.

This shows a mirror image of job loss getting worse during the last year of the Bush administration, and, of course, how it‘s getting better under the Obama administration.  And for clarity, this was released by the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi‘s office.  But the numbers don‘t lie.

And then, of course, the stock market.  The Dow Jones Industrials, here‘s how it‘s gone up under the Obama administration.

But for some reason, obviously the job numbers are not good in this country.  We‘re just under 10 percent unemployment and we‘re on the verge of a jobs package.  But there is a mindset with a lot of Americans that were not headed in the right direction. 

SPITZER:  Here‘s the problem, Ed.  Yes, that chart—and I think those numbers are the same chart that was released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics from the Department of Labor, which is the monthly job losses.

And we hit—we went over a cliff, and we were losing 700,000 jobs a month at the bottom of the recession.  We‘ve now basically leveled out.  Last month we lost 20,000.

The problem is we have lost 8.5 million jobs.  Nobody really knows where those jobs are going to come from.  And even if the economy was growing as it was last quarter, at a 5.7 clip, that was really asset appreciation.  There has been marginal uptick in manufacturing, but no net job creation in the sectors that really help middle Americans.

Median family income has been stagnant for a decade, and that is because of the international pressure, wage pressure from overseas.  That is the conundrum we haven‘t figured out.

We haven‘t figured out how to create jobs for middle class Americans that will pay any more than they did 10 or 20 or 30 years ago.  And in that case, you wonder, have we lost our capacity to grow the American dream?  And that is where we need to retrain, develop new technologies, and fundamentally retool the economy. 

SCHULTZ:  Mr. Spitzer, it seems like everybody is considering running these days.  Are you considering a political comeback?  And will you challenge Senator Gillibrand on the Democratic ticket in the primary? 

SPITZER:  No.  You know, as I say, I‘m running for the hills. 

I enjoy doing what I‘m doing.  I‘m writing.  I‘m teaching at CCNY, a great university, a public university here in the city of New York.  Ad working with the family business, and I‘m thoroughly enjoying what I‘m doing. 

So I enjoying watching from the sidelines for now. 

SCHULTZ:  So no plans on THE ED SHOW tonight?  All right.

SPITZER:  No, I‘m not going to announce it.  Let me check my crib notes here.  Nothing on my palms here tonight. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Show your hands now.

Eliot, good to have you with us tonight. 

SPITZER:  Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  I appreciate it so much.

Coming up, not only is “The Drugster” defending Palin‘s crib sheet, but Bush‘s buddy is ripping Obama for mispronouncing words. 

You can‘t make this stuff up.  That‘s why it‘s in “Psycho Talk.”  

Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, Sarah Palin‘s best bud, “The Drugster.”

Now that Palin has given him permission to use the R-word, he‘s dropping it all over the place. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  The left is livid over a picture in which she had written some crib notes in the palm of her hand.  Now, they used to make fun of Reagan for having index cards to remind himself of where he was going.  And, of course, their guy can‘t even make sense without a teleprompter, and even with the right words on a teleprompter.  He still doesn‘t know how to pronounce them.

So, here the spoiled brat, whiny little R-words are sitting there, upset that Sarah Palin had some little notes on her hand. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

SCHULTZ:  He‘s all worked up about that. 

Rush, did you use a teleprompter when you did your TV show? 

Apparently a lot of things are OK for a Republican to do, but not a Democrat.  Rush can call folks like me the R-word, but if a Democrat does it, he‘s got to resign. 

And somehow it‘s not a problem when Reagan uses note cards or Palin writes on her hand like she‘s cheating on a pop quiz, but all hell breaks loose when Obama uses a teleprompter.

And Rush, do you really want to attack President Obama for mispronouncing a word here and there?  I believe it was George W. Bush who, after eight years in office, still couldn‘t pronounce the word “nuclear.”

And Sarah, I think, had some trouble with that word over the weekend. 

Didn‘t she?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  North Korea tested nucular (ph) weapons...

... support for nucular power.

The president at least mentioned nucular power in the “State of the Union.”

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Oh, it‘s that grammar. 

Maybe she should have written it out phonetically on her hand. 

“The Drugster‘s” double standards are definitely “Psycho Talk.”  

Coming up, President Obama laid down the dare to the Republicans—show up for a televised debate on health care.  I‘ll ask Senator John Barrasso if he‘s ready for the close-up next on THE ED SHOW.

And White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan lashed out at Republicans over the underwear bomber.  Someone lands in the hot seat on that one tonight. 

All that, plus two of the funniest people I know will break down Palin‘s “Saturday Night Live” performance in the “Playbook.”

You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.

Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  Just in case there‘s any confusion out there, let me be clear, I‘m not going to walk away from health insurance reform.  I‘m not going to walk away from the American people.  I‘m not going to walk away on this challenge.  I‘m not going to walk away any challenge. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Thanks for watching tonight.  That was President Obama over the weekend.  He has not given up on health care reform, and he‘s telling the Democratic lawmakers not to run away, but to stand and fight.  The White House is tired of playing defense.  They are taking game to the Republicans, if we could put it that way. 

Before the Super Bowl last night, the president vowed to bring Republicans into the health care negotiations and he wants it televised. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATIE COURIC, CBS NEWS ANCHOR:  So you‘re inviting Republicans here to the White House.  Does that mean, Mr. President, you‘re willing to start at square one. 

OBAMA:  Well, I think that what I want to do is look at the Republican ideas that are out there.  And I would want to be very specific.  How do you guys want to lower costs?  How do you guys intend to reform the insurance markets so people with preexisting conditions, for example, can get health care?  How do you want to make sure that the 30 million people who don‘t have health insurance can get it?  What are your ideas specifically? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  It sounds like a good idea.  That would be on C-Span on February 25th, a Thursday afternoon, taking half the day.  Republicans are now saying that they don‘t want to meet with the president on television.  Pretty bold move by the president to do that.  I mean, let‘s get to it.  It‘s a good start showing the American people that the Republicans have no real solutions of any kind for this country‘s health care problems. 

Joining me now is New York Congressman Anthony Weiner.  Congressman, good to have you with us tonight.  Why do you think the Republicans responded the way they do, saying, no, we don‘t want to do this TV thing with the president? 

REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK:  To their credit, the Republicans have been consistent all the way along.  They want there to be no health care reform.  They want there to be no bill.  They have called health care reform the president‘s Waterloo, if they have their way.  I‘m concerned that—I‘m fine with having some Republicans in the room.  I think if the president wants to find a way to save money, my colleagues and I have proposed a public option, which the CBO scores as saving about 115 billion dollars. 

If you want to make sure you have coverage, there‘s ideas to expand Medicare to cover people not over 65 but over 55 or 45.  I don‘t have any problem with having my conservative friends in the room, but I hope the president realizes that the real ideas and the people who want him to succeed are not on the Republican side of the aisle.  They‘re on the Democratic side of the aisle. 

SCHULTZ:  Isn‘t it critical for the vetting process for the American people to see who is for reform and who isn‘t?  Isn‘t the president calling their bluff and aren‘t we getting down to the devil in the detail on this, as to who really wants to do something?  First, the Republicans were crying about the fact that there wasn‘t enough transparency and they were left out of meetings.  Then when the president wants to do it on television, on C-SPAN or whoever wants to cover it—we probably would.  Now they are saying, we don‘t want to do that.  I mean, isn‘t it time for the Democrats to really go on the offensive big time? 

WEINER:  My concern is that isn‘t what it sounds like the president is doing.  To his credit, he has said in the last 72 hours and the last week or so—he sounded like somebody who is prepared to fight for health care and that‘s what he should do.  The problem is not that John Boehner is not going along with this.  We know he‘s not—we know the Republicans are not going to it.  I‘m fine having the atmospherics of them going in and saying tort reform is the answer to every problem. 

My real concern is that we are walking away too often in the last six months to a year from the philosophy that many of us hold, which if you want to cover more people with health care—there are already ideas out there how to do it.  I don‘t think this exercise is going to bear much fruit.  The Republicans have said they don‘t want there to be a bill.  And I would hope that the president doesn‘t fold to their wishes. 

SCHULTZ:  Finally, congressman, to report tonight that long-time congressman John Murtha from Pennsylvania has passed away at the age of 77 years old.  He spent 37 years in the United States Marine Corp.  He was elected to Congress in 1990.  He was a critic of the Iraq War and a real leader in the Congress and a real supporter of veterans.  And I know that you knew him well. 

WEINER:  He was a mentor to me and so many others.  And there is no one who is ever going to take his place.  It‘s hard not to remember that the whole conversation about the war in Iraq turned when he, someone who chairs the Appropriation Committee, someone who knows the military inside and out, somebody is, by a lot of definitions, a real hawk—when he said it‘s time for us to leave Iraq, I think it really turned the debate.  He‘s a great, great man,  And there‘s a corner seat in the House of Representatives that --  maybe some day somebody else will sit there.  But no one will ever take his place. 

SCHULTZ:  Thank you, Congressman Weiner.  Appreciate your time tonight.  John Murtha leaving us at the age of 77. 

There was another health care issue today.  That is Anthem, which has increased its premiums on some customers—some policy-holders in California to the tune of 39 percent.  That drew reaction today from Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services.  I can‘t remember the last time a secretary of that department has flat out asked an insurance company to justify their rates in public. 

For more on that, let‘s go to Wyoming Senator John Barrasso.  Senator, good to have you with us tonight. 

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO ®, WYOMING:  Great to be with you, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  Senator, do you think that Anthem, which operates mostly in California and has jacked their rates up on consumers—do you think they should have to explain that to the American people? 

BARRASSO:  I think insurance companies should have to explain all their rate increases to the American people.  That‘s why I‘m delighted that the president has called for an open meeting with Republicans and Democrats to come together to take a look at ways that we can actually help reform—you said health care and he said health insurance. 

Fundamentally, we know that the system is flawed.  And we need to improve the system, Ed.  We need to do something.  Doing nothing isn‘t enough. 

SCHULTZ:  So you support Kathleen Sebelius and her call for transparency from that insurance company?  Am I hearing that correctly? 

BARRASSO:  I want transparency.  I want to have patient centered reform.  I‘m not going to defend insurance companies.  We need to ask insurance companies every time they raise rates, this company or any company.  The American people deserve explanations.  They deserve explanations from elected representatives.  They deserve explanations from insurance companies.  You better believe it. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, why won‘t the Republican leadership go for the president‘s proposal to bring in both Democratic and Republican leaders and have an open conversation about health care insurance reform in this country?  Would you go along with that?  And why are they not balking at that? 

BARRASSO:  I would go along with that.  I think we need an open discussion.  What we need to do between now and this meeting, Thursday, a week from now, after President‘s Day, is have all of the members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, go home and have town hall meetings, listen to the people from their districts, and then come to that meeting with the president and say, Mr. President, this is what I heard.

What I‘ve been hearing in Wyoming is people opposed to the bill that passed the Senate, that raises taxes and cut Medicare by a half a trillion dollars, and is going to increase premiums for people who have insurance.  So I‘d say even though the Democrats have been told, don‘t have town hall meetings; we don‘t want to start that up again; go home, trust the people, listen to them, and then come back to Washington with you best ideas, so we can get health care reform. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, what would you say to someone in your state that comes up to you and says, I‘ve got a preexisting condition and I can‘t get health insurance.  What would be your solution to that?

BARRASSO:  Ed, there are about a million and a half of those people,

certainly those in Wyoming as well, Ed.  We have a high risk pool in

Wyoming.  It‘s still too expensive. We need ways to help.  There are 34

states that have high risk pools to help people with preexisting

conditions.  I think, fundamentally, we have to help people with

preexisting conditions get coverage.  That‘s a big part of it.  We need to

do that.  We need to give people more choices and if they truly need help -

-

SCHULTZ:  Senator, it‘s not the cost.  They will not be covered because they have a preexisting condition.  And so whether they go across state lines or no matter what company they are dealing with, they can‘t get insurance.  What do you say to those people?  I think that‘s what the president really wants to hear the Republicans answer. 

BARRASSO:  Thirty four states, Ed, have high risk pools to deal with people with preexisting conditions.  That means there‘s 16 states that don‘t have pools like that.  We need to take the best ideas that work in each state and make sure that every state uses that for people with preexisting conditions.  And you‘re right, there are over a million and a half people that have preexisting conditions, and they need to be covered. 

SCHULTZ:  Where did the Republicans stand on anti-trust exemption? 

Where do you stand on it?  

BARRASSO:  I think we ought to allow people to buy insurance across state lines and give those people the same tax breaks as the big companies have.  That‘s the way you cover about 12 million people that don‘t have insurance right now.  We need health care reform, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Can you go back and tell Leader McConnell that you really think it‘s a good idea that we do this on television with the president and the Democratic leadership?  Don‘t the American people deserve that? 

BARRASSO:  I‘ve asked for transparency for the last year.  I‘m delighted that the president finally, after finding himself really on the ropes here, has said, now we better invite in the other side. 

SCHULTZ:  But your leadership is saying no, we don‘t want to do that. 

It looks like a political ploy. 

BARRASSO:  I‘m not going to be participating in a political ploy.  I‘m going to say we need health care reform.  We need the American people engaged in this.  And we need to have more transparency and openness and a sharing of ideas.  But let‘s have all members of Congress go home and have town halls next week, and then come back to Washington the following week, and share those ideas, which will make sure people have enough choices, for people that really need help—I‘m talking about American citizens that really need help.  We need to be able to help them and get better opportunities. 

SCHULTZ:  Wyoming Senator John Barrasso here with us on THE ED SHOW. 

Thank you, senator.  Appreciate your time. 

BARRASSO:  Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  We have one Republican on record who says that he wants the TV coverage, which I like. 

Let‘s bring in our panel tonight, Bill Press, nationally syndicated radio talk show host and Michael Medved, also a nationally syndicated talk show host.  Bill, what do you make of all of this?  Is Obama going as far as he has to go to prove a point?  What do you think? 

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  You know, Ed, I‘ve got to tell you, I‘m not on the bus on this one.  I think any minute—any time wasted with John Boehner or Mitch McConnell—any more time is just a waste of time.  I don‘t think anything is going to come out of this.  We know the Republicans don‘t want health care reform.  They want the status quo.

I think Obama should just push it through with Democratic votes, get a bill, get it passed, get it over with, not wait another two weeks. 

SCHULTZ:  Michael, why wouldn‘t the conservative talkers of America say, let‘s do it.  Let‘s go in and show Obama that he‘s wrong?  Let‘s show the president that he‘s way off base on this?  It would seem to me that the conservatives who are strong in their convictions about not reforming it the way that the president wants to do it, to take this opportunity and show it in front of the American people.  Why not? 

MICHAEL MEDVED, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Absolutely.  Just like Senator Barrasso did on your show.  I agree with Senator Barrasso.  I agree with you.  I do think that Leader McConnell and Leader Boehner are going to flip on this and they‘re going to change.

The only are I disagree with Bill Press is Bill says, let‘s get it over with.  This is a very, very substantive change.  Let‘s do it piece by piece.  There are areas in which we can agree.  My first priority would be dealing with that problem of preexisting conditions.  Because there‘s really a great deal of agreement here among Republicans and Democrats.  Let‘s protect those 1.5 million people and let‘s do it the right way, the way that some of the states have done it so far. 

SCHULTZ:  But the insurance industry is gouging those that have a preexisting condition and can‘t get coverage.  I‘ve got to look into what Senator Barrasso was talking about.  I get email all the time—Bill, I know you do too—from people  who say, I can‘t get coverage.  Bottom line. 

MEDVED:  It‘s true.  It‘s true.  It‘s a huge problem.  That‘s why working with the high risk pools, which, by the way, is part of the idea of the Obama care reform—look, this is a very complicated reform.  There‘s about a third of it that I support enthusiastically.  And I think a lot of Republicans are with me. 

PRESS:  Michael, my feeling is look, we spent an entire year on this.  We lost two months because people got befuddled after this Massachusetts elections.  Now we are going to wait until February 25 to really think that anything is going to come out of that meeting?  I love the fact it‘s going to be on C-SPAN.  I like the fact that Obama is going to confront these Republicans. 

Let‘s be honest.  They don‘t want reform, Michael.  You may.  They don‘t.  Nothing is going to come out of it. 

MEDVED:  Completely not true, Bill.  This is where I disagree with you completely.  I think Democrats are sincere in wanting health care reform and Republicans are sincere in wanting health care reform, but in the right way. 

PRESS:  They haven‘t showed it, Michael. 

(CROSS TALK)

MEDVED:  Take a look at the excellent bills these are bills that have been submitted by Dr. Tom Price, by John Shadegg, by Paul Ryan.

(CROSS TALK) 

SCHULTZ:  The Republican leadership that has been so critical of President Obama when he says, hey, let‘s open up the doors, bring the cameras in.  Now they‘re saying we don‘t want to do it. 

PRESS:  They also say let‘s start from scratch.

MEDVED:  Big mistake.  I‘m going to predict that by tomorrow they will sign on to this and go forward. 

SCHULTZ:  I hope so.  Michael Medved, Bill Press, great to have you with us tonight.

Coming up, folks, I just can‘t get over this; Sarah Palin is considering a run for 2012.  The woman who nicknamed her Caribou Barbie and a man who needs no last name.  They are up next in the play book.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in my playbook tonight, there‘s so much more to say about Sarah Palin‘s Tea Party speech from Saturday night.  So I thought I‘d bring in a couple of close friends who can help me out with this one, nationally syndicated radio talk show host Stephanie Miller and Lionel, two of the funniest people I know. 

All right.  Here is Sarah Palin on Saturday night, going after the president about the use of a teleprompter. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  This is about the people.  This is about the people and it‘s bigger than any king or queen of a Tea Party.  And it‘s a lot bigger than any charismatic guy with a teleprompter. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Golly, shucks, Stephanie.  What do you think about that? 

STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  You know, Ed, I always write my answers on your show on my hand as well, but these TV lights make me a little nervous.  So let me start by saying, flat?  Is that what I meant to say, flat?  Can you imagine if she becomes president?  Can you imagine any of the great speeches in our history—ask not what you can do for your country—four score and—I mean, I don‘t even know what to say about it.  This is like eight grade, isn‘t it?

SCHULTZ:  It‘s very close to it.  Lionel, your thoughts on her performance on Saturday night.

LIONEL, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Ed, you can laugh all you want, but this endears her to the crowd.  You remember in Iraq when they were voting with their purple fingers?  The next time there‘s a Tea Party rally, a show of hands.  They are going to do this.  They are going to write Palin in 2012.  She could do nothing wrong. 

Did you notice before she looked at her hand, she is reading from notes.  Why didn‘t anybody pick up the fact that she—and this president, who reads from a prompter, and says—she was reading prior to the hand thing.  Look, it doesn‘t matter.  The more we joke about it, the more she is endeared to these people.  These are the same people that thought George W. Bush was quaint. 

Let me ask you something; true or false, is she more charismatic than Jimmy Carter?  And does she butcher the English language less than W?  You can laugh all you want, as we will.  As I do, don‘t mis-underestimate her. 

SCHULTZ:  Stephanie, I‘m just praying, please, do it for cable, do it for talk radio, run in 2012.  What do you think? 

MILLER:  Yes.  This news, on top of the fact that we find out from these e-mails that she wasn‘t even running Alaska.  The guy with the snow machine business—the only thing he copied her on was there the right electricity for her tanning bed. 

LIONEL:  By the way, quickly, when she talked about Tad, her husband, Tad.  She said he‘s an independent.  No, he‘s not.  He‘s a secessionist.  Remember that one?  She‘s beautiful. 

They love it, Ed.  They love it. 

SCHULTZ:  This is Sarah Palin getting cutesy in her speech on Saturday night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN:  How is that hopey changey stuff working out for you?

Candidate Obama pledged to end closed door sweetheart deals and no-bid contracts once and for all.  But last month his administration awarded a 25 million dollar no bid contract to a Democrat donor.  Is that hope?  Nope. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MILLER:  Oh, gosh.  I don‘t know.  That hopey changey thing is working out fine.  How is that quitty twitty thing working out for you? 

LIONEL:  I want to know what a sweetheart dill is. 

MILLER:  She‘s the quitter from Twitter, Ed,  Seriously.

LIONEL:  Now we‘re talking about dills.  Again, you can laugh all you want—and we‘re laughing.  But folks, you know that, for some reason, there‘s a quarter of this country that finds this endearing? 

SCHULTZ:  You think she‘s a force, Lionel?

LIONEL:  Absolutely.  In professional wrestling, she‘s heel and Baby Face.  It‘s the ultimate work.  Is she going to be president?  Nah.  Not in this country. 

SCHULTZ:  Lionel and Stephanie Miller, great to have you with us tonight.  Thanks so much. 

One final page in my playbook tonight, get ready for another Michael Jackson courtroom drama.  Today, Jackson‘s doctor, Conrad Murray, was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of the King of Pop.  And Michael Jackson‘s parents and five of his sibling were in the court room as Murray pleaded not guilty to the charge.  He could face up to four years in prison if he is convicted. 

Coming up, White House Counter-Terrorism Chief John Brennan said the Republicans are turning the underwear bomber story into a political football.  David Rivkin, very conservative, will suit up with me in the hot seat, next on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Finally, tonight, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been all over TV attacking the Obama administration‘s interrogation of the alleged Christmas day bomber.  McConnell called it egregious and said Larry King could have done a better job questioning him.  But McConnell didn‘t raise any objections when he was briefed on December 25th.  Here‘s John Brennan, the president‘s top counter-terrorism chief.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BRENNAN, WHITE HOUSE COUNTER-TERRORISM CHIEF:  On Christmas night, I called a number of members of Congress.  I spoke to Representative Boehner and Hoekstra and said that he was in FBI custody, that he was, in fact, talking, that he was cooperating at that point.  They knew that in FBI custody means that there‘s a process that you follow, as far as Mirandizing and presenting in front of the magistrate. 

None of those individuals raised any concerns with me at that point.  They didn‘t say, is he going into military custody?  Is he going to be Mirandized?  They were very appreciative of the information.  We told them that we would keep them informed and that‘s what we did. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Joining me now is David Rivkin, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and co-chair of the Center for Law and Counter-Terrorism.  Mr. Rivkin, thanks for your time tonight. 

DAVID RIVKIN, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES:  Good to be with you. 

SCHULTZ:  Why the Republican criticism so late, when they knew the day it took place what was going on? 

RIVKIN:  First of all, they didn‘t.  It‘s interesting that Mr. Brennan says that being in FBI custody is synonymous with being Mirandized.  What‘s interesting is that at the beginning of the administration, they announced the creation of something called HIG, high interrogation group, that was centered in the FBI.  They specifically said that it did not mean people would be invariably Mirandized.

So Brennan is just factually wrong.  But let me also point out, isn‘t it kind of silly to be talking in terms of, gee, why didn‘t the other side complain, instead of looking at the underlining substance of this?  We‘re talking about somebody interrogated for 50 minutes.  That interrogation was interrupted.  He was Mirandized.  I don‘t know of any serious interrogator who would not believe that we should have a go at him for several weeks.

SCHULTZ:  But Mr. Rivkin, what you‘re saying may be true.  But no Republican at the time had any objection for weeks on end on this issue. 

RIVKIN:  Ed, I just explained that they know that he was going to be Mirandized.

SCHULTZ:  You‘re assuming that.  You‘re putting your credibility against Mr. Brennan, who says that they were told. 

RIVKIN:  No, Mr. Brennan said—the quote you just ran, Mr. Brennan

said the following: they know Mr. Abdultmutallab was in FBI custody, and

that invariably meant that he was going to be Mirandized.  I‘m telling you

that the administration high level announcement when the created something

called HIG, high level interrogation group, specifically said that it did

not mean that they were going to get Mirandized.  So unless they could read

--

SCHULTZ:  So Mr. McConnell, Mr. Boehner, Mr. Bond, Mr. Hoekstra knew right away that this new interrogation team and they were led to believe Miranda rights were not being served up? 

RIVKIN:  The notion that this person was Mirandized—by the way, let‘s forget about where he would eventually be tried.  That‘s a different debate.  But the notion that they could conceive—that the administration would be so foolish as to Mirandize him in 50 minutes is quite frankly ludicrous.  Of course they didn‘t conceive of it.  It  would have been crazy. 

SCHULTZ:  It looks like political posturing to me.  We‘ll have you back to talk more about this.  I‘m interested to hear what you have to say.  The president has said not sure where we‘re going to have this trial.  Good to have you on with us.

Tonight in our text survey, I asked you do you want Sarah Palin to run for president in 2012?  Forty two percent of you said yes—great for cable, great for talk radio -- 58 percent said no. 

That‘s “THE ED SHOW.”  Chris Matthews is next.  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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