updated 3/18/2010 12:45:36 PM ET 2010-03-18T16:45:36

Guests: James Clyburn, Jennifer Donahue, Debbie Stabenow, Rob Andrews, Karen Hanretty, Bill Press, Steve McMahon, Cliff May, Jack Rice

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  Good evening, Americans, and welcome to THE ED SHOW, live from the nation‘s capital tonight, Washington, D.C.

These stories hitting my hot buttons tonight. 

Well, Dennis Kucinich, can you believe it?  He flipped from a “no” to a “yes” on health care reform.  This could be the game-changer for all liberals. 

I‘ll get the latest headcount from the guy who does the head counting in the House, Congressman Jim Clyburn. 

Attorney General Eric Holder gave it to the Republicans when they went after the administration for being weak on terror. 

And Michele Bachmann is giving people a chance to get their picture taken with her and Sarah Palin.  And it‘s only $10,000.  I wonder how many hockey moms in Minnesota are going to fork that kind of dollar out to be with them? 

But, of course, the big story today is—I don‘t have a handkerchief with me, but I‘ll just use this.  I guess it‘s time to surrender.  Time to surrender.

Today, March 17, 2010, I can officially say after all the time we have spent fighting for it, the public option is officially dead.  Dennis Kucinich, the single payer champion, made it official this afternoon—or this morning—with his announcement. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO:  In the past week, it‘s become clear that the vote on the final health bill will be very close.  I have doubts about the bill.  I do not think it is a step toward anything I have supported in the past.  This is not the bill I wanted to support.  If my vote is to be counted, let it count now for passage of the bill, hopefully in the direction of comprehensive health care reform. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  I don‘t like the way I have to say this, but we have fought the good fight on the public option.  That doesn‘t make me feel very good.  I like winning.

But I guess, liberals, it‘s time for all of us to get in line.  This gives every liberal I think cover to support the bill at this point. 

The bill is as good as it‘s going to get for now.  For now.

The fact that Dennis Kucinich is voting “yes” shows that he doesn‘t want to be the one who denies 31 million Americans health care.  This was a pretty brave decision by a principled liberal.  Over the years he‘s been very consistent.  This is more about the big picture, not just health care. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KUCINICH:  But as a nation, we‘re losing sight of the expanded vision, the electrifying potential we caught when we caught a glimpse of the potential of the election of President Obama, the transformational potential of his presidency.  One of the things that has bothered me is the attempt to try to delegitimize his presidency.  That hurts the nation when that happens.  He was elected. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Dennis Kucinich looking at the big picture. 

Hey, you‘ve got to give President Obama credit on this.  He convinced one of the toughest liberals in the Congress to vote yes.  Now he needs to seal the deal with 37 other Democrats who voted no.  That‘s not going to happen.  They‘re all not going to come over. 

If this vote fails, I think it‘s all over for this president.  I really do.  It will be the Waterloo that Jim DeMint talked about. 

If the Democrats don‘t deliver the main plank of their platform, I believe that they are in serious trouble in the midterms.  If you believe in the party, if you believe in helping Americans, Democrats, you need to pass this bill. 

Get yours phones out, folks.  I want to know what you think about Dennis Kucinich tonight. 

Our tech survey question is: In deciding to vote “yes” for the health care bill, do you think Congressman Kucinich did the right thing or sold out?  Text A, did the right thing; text B, sold out, to 622639.  I‘ll bring you the results later on in the show. 

Congressman Kucinich will be here tomorrow night to talk more about his decision.  And you won‘t want to miss that.  He is still catching some heat from lefties in the blogosphere. 

Joining me now is South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn, the House majority whip in charge of counting the heads. 

Congressman, great to have you on tonight in this very crucial time, I guess we can say. 

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D), SOUTH CAROLINA:  Well, thank you so much for having me. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet. 

When is the CBO going to come out and score this second fix-it bill? 

What do you hear tonight? 

CLYBURN:  Well, I hope it will be tonight, hopefully by—in the morning.  I don‘t know for sure.  I‘ve seen preliminary numbers, but I think we expect something else from them later tonight or tomorrow morning. 

SCHULTZ:  And that really—you really can‘t do anything until you get that, right? 

CLYBURN:  That‘s true.  We‘ve told many of our members, many of whom we know are with us as far as their will is concerned, but they want to see the numbers. 

They want to make sure these cost containments that we say are there, they want to see them.  They want to make sure that it‘s going to cost no more than we say it‘s going to cost.  And so we cannot in good conscience ask them to make commitments until such time as they see those numbers. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, how far away are you?  Five votes?  Ten votes? 

Fifteen votes?  How close are you? 

CLYBURN:  Well, I don‘t know.  I think we‘re making progress. 

As you said, you talked about Dennis Kucinich coming on board.  Jim Oberstar made public today.  (INAUDIBLE) put out a letter today.  These were three people that were leaning no, and they‘re now saying they‘re going to vote for it. 

So I think these people are publicly coming to where you‘ve been for a long time, and that is that the American people want this bill.  They want to stop being discriminated against for things that they have nothing to do with.  They want us to have accessible, affordable, quality health care for all Americans. 

SCHULTZ:  What happens if you don‘t get the votes?  I mean, do you just keep pushing the deadline back? 

I mean, you know, seriously, people want to know.  I mean, there‘s a lot of political prognosticators out there saying this is going to be it for the Democrats and the agenda if they don‘t get this deal done. 

So when is the deadline?  I mean, how long do you keep it open? 

CLYBURN:  Well, we aren‘t going to have a three-our open vote, I‘m sure.  I really believe that when we get to the point of calling this vote, whenever that‘s going to be, hopefully this weekend, that we‘ll have in place the votes that are necessary to pass it. 

And I‘m not thinking about anything—any other scenario.  I‘m only thinking about passing this bill, and I think we‘re going to do it.  And I‘m not allowing myself to think about any “what-ifs” if we don‘t do it. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.  One more, Congressman. 

You know, are deals being cut?  Are congressional members being promised favors or deals or money back to their districts?  Are votes being purchased? 

I mean, I know I don‘t like asking that question, but the American people want to know.  Are deals being cut behind the scenes to get this deal done? 

CLYBURN:  Absolutely not.  Not that I know of.  I cannot say what may be going on in somebody else‘s office, but I have seen none of that. 

All we‘ve gotten from people is, let me see whether or not these cost containments are in place.  Let me see whether or not you all got rid of these special deals that cost us so much credibility on this issue. 

You‘ll remember when we passed this bill in the House, we were at 63 percent favorability with the American people.  It was not until all this deal-making was exposed in the Senate bill that people tended to lose favor with what we were doing. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes.

CLYBURN:  So that‘s beginning to move back up again.  And I really believe that we are going to find ourselves well over 50 percent with the American people within the next two to three days. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Clyburn, great to have you on tonight.  Thanks so much.  And hopefully we‘ll get it done by the weekend. 

CLYBURN:  Thank you so much for having me. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet.

For more, let‘s bring in Jennifer Donahue, political analyst and “Huffington Post” contributor. 

I don‘t want to be a naysayer here, but it would seem to me that it would be a disastrous midterm if President Obama can‘t reel in all these conservative Democrats to go ahead and vote yes. 

What do you think? 

JENNIFER DONAHUE, POLITICAL ANALYST:  I think you‘re right, Ed.  I think there‘s no middle road here.  The only things in the middle of the road right now are yellow lines and dead skunks.

The Democrats have to take a stand.  This is the time to come up and vote your conscience. 

I think we‘ve had a year now of back and forth.  We‘ve seen the sausage being made.  It‘s not pretty.  Congressional approval is down to 13 percent. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, that‘s what I was going to say.  It‘s at 17 percent. 

Nobody likes anybody, so they might as well go ahead and vote for the bill. 

DONAHUE:  That‘s kind of what I think, Ed.  I think, honestly, if you‘re not going to vote for it now, you‘re going to pay in anyway.  You‘re going to pay in November for inaction or action, as you pointed out earlier.  So why not act? 

SCHULTZ:  What about coattails?  I‘m thinking about President Obama.  I‘m thinking about that conservative Democrat Earl Pomeroy from North Dakota.

DONAHUE:  Yes.

SCHULTZ:  I‘m not so sure that Earl Pomeroy would want President Obama to go to Bismarck right now.  I mean, it‘s a coattail issue right now. 

DONAHUE:  Well, I think in some ways it is, although what you have to look at is actually that Congress has a 77 percent unfavorable.  Obama has half the voters still liking him. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes.

DONAHUE:  So the problem really is these 3-1 negative ads running in people‘s states.  In New Hampshire, for example, you‘ve got a seat where Carol Shea-Porter, the congresswoman, is defending herself against attack ads from the person running against her saying she‘s Nancy Pelosi, she‘s Nancy Pelosi.  This is like when Obama basically said McCain was Bush.  They‘re basically lumping everybody in with Pelosi and hoping it sticks.

SCHULTZ:  And I think it‘s interesting that President Obama went to the back yard of Dennis Kucinich, where really the story is Bart Stupak. 

DONAHUE:  Yes.

SCHULTZ:  Why didn‘t he go to the back yard of Bart Stupak and do a rally there?  Now, I know he went to the conservative Democrat in Pennsylvania, but, I mean, Stupak is the guy that has been getting all the publicity.

DONAHUE:  Yes.

SCHULTZ:  And if it is about the abortion language, I think it‘s big that (INAUDIBLE) came on board today to vote yes.  But the president is pushing, but is it totally a full court? 

DONAHUE:  It‘s not a full court.  And that‘s where Obama needs to realize he hasn‘t found his voice.

I ran into Karen Hughes back at my hotel when I was coming over to see you, and I said, “Karen, is it going to pass?”  She said, “I think it‘s going to pass no matter what it takes.”

And I thought to myself, it takes Obama.  He needs to get out there.  He needs to twist arms.  We‘re going to find out in the next three days if that man knows how to twist arms.  This is not—

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ:  Well, it‘s not his style to do that, but I know what you‘re saying.  He‘s not an LBJ-style kind of guy. 

DONAHUE:  He‘s not, but he‘s going to have to channel LBJ to get this through. 

SCHULTZ:  If this fails though, how does President Obama go back to the base Democrats, the core Democrats, and say, hey, you‘ve got to support our team on the campaign trail?  I mean, look at these primaries that are taking place. 

Andrew Romanoff won last night in the Democratic Caucus in Colorado.  I mean, there is a thirst for change and angst for change out there even with the Democrats, but it would seem to me that it would be very hard for President Obama to go out and rally the troops to get a great get-out-the-vote type situation in November if they don‘t pass this. 

DONAHUE:  Well, I think if you campaigned for a year on a health care reform bill, and even if it changes and you campaigned on change, if you don‘t make that change, if you don‘t have the guts, if you can‘t drop a pair and get the thing passed at the end of the day, Ed, I think you risk your party‘s reputation in November, 2010.  I don‘t think they have a choice.  They‘ve gone too far not to take action. 

This is a zero-sum game.  They need to do it or they need to face defeat.  And a lot of people say they‘re going to face defeat if they do it.  I totally disagree. 

SCHULTZ:  I think a lot of people are going to face defeat.  They might as well just go ahead and get going on this.

DONAHUE:  It would be a mid-year election with a president who is a Democrat.  So some Democrats are going to lose seats.  So just vote your conscience.

SCHULTZ:  Jennifer, good to have you with us.

DONAHUE:  Thank you, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Happy St. Patrick‘s Day. 

DONAHUE:  And to you.

SCHULTZ:  Have you noticed everybody on our network has got these ties?

DONAHUE:  I love your tie.  I think that‘s terrific. 

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, the Senate stepped up and passed a $17 billion jobs bill today.  Senator Debbie Stabenow says this makes it possible to say “Made in America” again.  She‘ll explain all of that in just a moment. 

And psycho sisters Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin are teaming up to squeeze chump change, $10,000, out of everybody who wants to have a picture with them.  How nice. 

Plus, Rick Santorum crash-lands in the zone. 

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

After weeks of delay and stall tactics, which the Republicans are great for, the Senate today finally passed nearly an $18 billion jobs bill.  And take notice of the vote.  It was 68-29, with 11 Republicans voting for it, which I find pretty interesting, because only six of those Republicans supported bringing the bill to a final vote.  That‘s how it works, I guess. 

And I‘m happy they came around.  All Americans should be.  But this is more proof of how the Republicans are playing political games while Americans are struggling in this economy. 

Joining me now is Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow. 

Senator, great to have you with us. 

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN:  Good to be here. 

SCHULTZ:  Gosh, I hope some of these Republicans tip over on the health care vote, if it comes to that, but that‘s wishful thinking. 

On this jobs bill, where does the money go?  How is it going to help your state, which really has got pretty high unemployment?

STABENOW:  Well, first, let me just say, Ed, that to flash back to last January, when the president took office, we were losing 800,000 jobs a month, amazingly.  Now it‘s about zero, and we‘re moving up.  I mean, we‘ve got to get—I‘ll be happy when it‘s 800,000 jobs that we‘re creating.

But the bill in front of us does four things.  It gives a tax cut to businesses who hire people that are currently unemployed.  It gives a tax cut to businesses who invest in their businesses. 

It extends the highway trust fund, which will save at least a million jobs.  And it focuses—it invests in what‘s called Build America bonds, which is really rebuilding America and making it cheaper for states and local governments to put people back to work in construction. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, in this global economy, I mean, it‘s rough with China right now. 

STABENOW:  Right. 

SCHULTZ:  And I know you‘ve been on this story.  I urged my radio listeners today to read “The New York Times” editorial, focus in on paragraphs two and four  I mean, I think this says it all. 

“China‘s decision to base its economic growth on exporting deliberately undervalued goods is threatening economies around the world.  It is fueling huge trade deficits in the United States and Europe.  Even worse, it is crowding out exports from other developing countries, threatening their hopes of recovery.”

Now, if we don‘t address this issue with China, are we going to have economic recovery?  And I know that you‘ve been on this story, but this is the next heavy lift for the Obama administration, is it not? 

STABENOW:  This is very important, Ed.  And we‘ve just introduced a bipartisan bill with Senator Schumer, myself, and Senator Lindsey Graham, and Sherrod Brown and Sam Brownback, a very interesting coalition of people and others, because the reality is right now, China is cheating, undervaluing, discounting their products they sell to us by the way they value their currency.  It‘s up to a 40 percent discount they get for bringing their goods in because they cheat, and we‘re losing jobs as a result of it. 

So, when you see those cheap Chinese products, first of all, they‘re not following the rules on how those are priced, and they‘re undercutting us.  And as you said at the beginning of the segment, we want to see the words “Made in America” again. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, that‘s a big part of it. 

Now, the other part of the editorial that I think is very interesting is, “So far, China has been defiant.  On Sunday, after the close of the annual National People‘s Congress, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao rejected American complaints as a kind of trade protectionism and made clear that he had no plan to do anything differently.” 

Now, I have to ask the question, would this jobs bill—are we just throwing money at a bad situation, and until we address these trade agreements and this manipulation of currency, we‘re just going to be stuck with an economy that might not grow? 

STABENOW:  Well, Ed, we need to do both.  We need to make investments, which is what we are doing, and create incentives to support hiring of people who need a job.  But we also have to address trade. 

We have to address what‘s happening right now, because China is not following the rules.  And in my book, they don‘t think we‘re tough.  They don‘t think they need to pay attention to us, because for a number of administrations we have not seen a willingness to step up and really force them to be following the rules. 

They wanted to be part of the WTO.  They were admitted in 2001 so that, supposedly, they could follow the rules. 

We‘re losing jobs because of the way they get artificial discounts right now.  And so their prices look cheaper just because of the way they are valuing their currency. 

And bottom line—and it‘s a technical subject, but bottom line is we are losing jobs.  So we‘ve got to focus on that.  We‘ve got to focus on opening more opportunities.  I support the president‘s effort to expand exports, but we have to make sure that the door‘s open.

SCHULTZ:  Is it really time for us to say “Buy American”? 

STABENOW:  Absolutely. 

SCHULTZ:  Is it time for us to get pride in what we do produce in this country? 

STABENOW:  Absolutely. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, great to have you with us.  I‘ve got to run tonight.  Appreciate your time. 

STABENOW:  Thanks.

SCHULTZ:  Thanks for being on this story. 

Coming up, Rick Santorum is all hot and bothered about the president‘s upcoming trip to Indonesia.  He‘ll bow his way right into the psycho zone next. 

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, Former—and I say “Former” with a capital “F”—Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.  Never did like that guy.

He popped up over on the right-wing network in talking about the Democrats in Congress asked President Obama to delay his trip to Indonesia.  Of course, the reason, they want the president to stick around so he can help push the health care bill across the proverbial finish line. 

But Santorum, he had a different theory. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM ®, FMR. PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR:  I think the Democrats are actually worried he may go to Indonesia and bow to more Muslims.  I mean, I think that‘s sort of the concern, that every time he seems to go to these other countries, he comes back or starts some sort of controversy that hits his popularity. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Still a pretty deep guy, huh? 

Buddy, I don‘t think President Obama is the one who starts those controversies.  Remember his last trip to Asia last fall?  If you were only watching Fox News, you would have thought that he spent the whole time bowing to the Japanese emperor. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  American leaders do not bow to leaders of other countries. 

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  That deep bow from the waist, actually, in the Japanese culture, it speaks weakness. 

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS:  But I‘d argue they‘re bowing at the ultra-socialism. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Barack Obama did a deep, deep bow. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Now, even after all that hot air, a Fox News poll found out that 67 percent of the people thought that President Obama‘s bow was appropriate.  Got that number? 

So, saying that President Obama‘s popularity took a hit is flat-out wrong, but Santorum is used to that.  And saying the Democrats are preoccupied with the way Obama greets foreign leaders, well, guess what?  That is just flat-out “Psycho Talk.”  

Coming up, the race to 2016 rolls on.  President Obama is reminding all the Democrats what Ted Kennedy would do. 

Congressman Rob Andrews will tell us if the House is ready to take the major leap of faith.  He‘s next. 

And Attorney General Eric Holder says Osama bin Laden will never appear in an American courtroom and finds a way to compare him to Charles Manson. 

Cliff May and Jack Rice will break it down with us, right here on THE

ED SHOW.

Stay with us.  You‘re watching MSNBC, the place for politics.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Today, of course, we all feel the heavy absence of one of our greatest Irish Americans, a man who loved this day so much, a man who I believe is still watching this body closely, particularly this week, and that is our beloved Ted Kennedy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  President Obama reminding Democrats that health care reform was the cause of the late senator‘s life from Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy.  The president and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi got one vote closer to making a reform a reality today when Congressman Dennis Kucinich announced he would vote for the bill.  Quite a move. 

For more, let me bring in New Jersey Congressman Rob Andrews.  Congressman, your thoughts on how big a move this actually is?  Doesn‘t this give liberals cover all the way across the board that it‘s OK to support this health care bill and move forward, even though they‘re not getting everything they want? 

REP. ROB ANDREWS (D), NEW JERSEY:  Yes, I think it‘s great that Dennis supported the bill.  Dennis is a good friend, and he speaks for a lot of people who feel disenfranchised and left out of the political process.  I respect and agree with the judgement that he made.  Yes, it does help us.

SCHULTZ:  All right, how close is it, in your opinion?  What are you hearing in the halls?  What are your friends telling you in Congress?  Do you sense that this is going to pass? 

ANDREWS:  Yes.  Ed, you know the way these things work, that there‘s a couple dozen people on these votes that play their cards close to their vest unit the end.  But I think we have a pretty good idea what people are going to do, and I‘m very confident that we‘ll pass a bill that reins in these insurance abuses, helps senior citizens pay for their prescription drugs, and put us on a path where hard-working people can get affordable insurance.  That‘s why the industry is fighting it so hard. 

SCHULTZ:  You‘re talking about keeping it close to the vest, playing your cards tight and everything else.  Is Nancy Pelosi, in your opinion, going to have 216 commitments before the vote is taken? 

ANDREWS:  Yes. 

SCHULTZ:  So she‘ll know the count before the vote‘s taken?  You‘re confident of that? 

ANDREWS:  Yes, I am.  I‘m very much involved in that effort.  And I‘m sure that—look, there‘s so much at stake here.  I‘m not talking about politics; I‘m talking about people‘s lives and the future of this country, that we‘re not going to take a reckless gamble on that—those kinds of stakes.  We‘ll be ready. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, all of you are polling at 17 percent, so you might as well go ahead and do it, because nobody likes you anyway.  That‘s what‘s going on out there. 

Seriously, what is the downside for Democrats to go ahead and vote for this if the country thinks that all of you aren‘t getting the job done anyway?  Why not make the moral vote?  Is that a pitch you can make to those sitting on the fence? 

ANDREWS:  Yeah, it really is.  Most of the pitch is on the merits, but you make a really good point, that people respect your character if you make a judgment that you truly believe is right.  You know, if Democrats can‘t believe that reining in insurance abuses, helping seniors and helping uninsured people get coverage isn‘t right, then what do we stand for?  I think this is the time to make this stand, to fight this fight.  We‘re ready.  And I believe we‘ll be successful. 

SCHULTZ:  This is what it‘s gotten like out there in Ohio, where the president was yesterday.  These are the kinds of things that are taking place in the heartland, how heated this debate as gotten.  Let‘s watch this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  At one pint, a man whose sign said he had Parkinson‘s sat down in front of health care opponents. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If you‘re looking for a handout, you‘re in the wrong end of town.  Nothing for free over here.  You have to work for everything you get. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Good to know. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Here you go.  I‘ll pay for you. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t want a handout. 

(CROSS TALK)  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Communist. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No more handouts. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  You know, this is 2010.  I don‘t know what that compares to in contemporary time.  Your thoughts on that, congressman? 

ANDREWS:  It compares to before Medicare was passed, when people said it was Russian Trotsky-ite health care.  And now everybody loves Medicare.  It compares to the 1930s, when Social Security was under consideration, and people said it was an extension of Stalin—it wouldn‘t be Stalin at that point—but Lenin-esque power to the United States.

Look, when people can‘t win the argument on reality, they go to delusion.  They do mean and ugly things, like you just saw.  The American people are better than that, and I believe that the goodness of the country will rise to the occasion, and so will the members of the House. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Andrews, good to have you with us tonight. 

Thanks so much.

ANDREWS:  My pleasure. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  I want to get some rapid-fire response from our panel tonight on these three stories.  With the health care reform on the line, President Obama goes into the fox hole and gives an interview with Bret Baier.  What for?  Nobody over there‘s going to believe you.  That‘s not the audience you need to convince. 

Progressive change is in the air.  As Andrew Romanoff beats appointed Colorado Senator Michael Bennett in the Democratic caucuses last night. 

And for the bargain basement price of 10,000 dollars, you can get your picture taken with Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, if you go to the fund raiser.  You have to bring your own camera, I understand. 

With us tonight is radio talk show host Bill Press, and Republican strategist Karen Hanretty.  Bill, we don‘t charge that much, do we, when we go out there on the road like that? 

KAREN HANRETTY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  I‘ll bet you charge a lot more. 

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t know about you. 

SCHULTZ:  Let‘s start with the health care thing.  President Obama, why does he go to Fox?  Does she actually think he‘s going to convince somebody that watches them? 

PRESS:  you know what?  It‘s the full-court press, Ed.  I think it shows how badly this guy wants this bill.  He‘s even willing to go to the evil empire to make his case.  Good for him.  You know what?  He may even reach some people, even some Democrats and some members of Congress who are watching Fox.  Let‘s face it, they get bigger numbers than anybody else.

SCHULTZ:  Why didn‘t he go to Fox in August? 

HANRETTY:  Why didn‘t he go to Fox in August? 

SCHULTZ:  I‘d like to know.

HANRETTY:  He should have.  He should have.  They would have gladly accepted him.  Look, who‘s your holdout?  Your holdouts right now are pro-life Democrats.  They‘re conservative to moderate Democrats.  And a lot of their voters are in swing districts that voted for John McCain, and they watch Fox News. 

I think this is really an example of, once again, President Obama being just one step behind the curve.  He should have done this in August? 

SCHULTZ:  It looks like a scramble move to me.  It really does. 

HANRETTY:  It looks desperate.  All of the attacks that they have made

-- 

SCHULTZ:  He went to St. Louis.  He went to Cleveland.  He‘s going out to George Mason University.  I think the guy—he‘s bringing people down to the White House.  He‘s pulling out all the stops.  You‘re right, he should have done it last August.  He didn‘t it, but he has to do it now. 

SCHULTZ:  We‘re going to have a very interesting primary season.  We‘ve got a lot to talk about in the coming months.  Andrew Romanoff, who is former speaker of the House in Colorado, won the Democratic caucus last night.  What does that tell you? 

PRESS:  You know what it tells me, first off?  I think it tells me that any incumbent, Republican or Democrat, is in trouble this time, and they better be looking over their shoulder.  Here‘s Michael Bennett—it‘s hard too paint him as an insider in Washington because he‘s only been less than two years.  But Andrew Romanoff was able to use that against him and beat him in the caucuses.  And Ken Buck, right, who almost beat Jane Norton in the Republican caucus.  So watch out. 

HANRETTY:  But this is also about a liberal constituency very angry at Bennett.  Bennett is not nearly liberate enough for that particular constituency.  He‘s probably moderate enough to win a statewide election. 

SCHULTZ:  But this is a crowd that thinks Obama did them wrong. 

HANRETTY:  He‘s not far left enough. 

SCHULTZ:  But Americans want the public option and that‘s what that guy is really pushing hard.

SCHULTZ:  But do you think he can win a general election?  Can he win statewide?

PRESS:  Romanoff?  I think it is going to be hard for him to win the primary.  But I would also look at Arkansas, with Bill Halter, who is a very, very strong candidate against Blanche Lincoln, put up by progressives around the country.  And look at Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania, same kind of race.

SCHULTZ:  Finally, how many hockey moms in Minnesota do you think can afford a picture for 10,000 dollars with Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann??  That‘s called shaking them down at the office, isn‘t it? 

HANRETTY:  Probably as many soccer moms as can afford to stay at the Lincoln Bedroom when Clinton was president. 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s not presidential—you‘re not saying—

(CROSS TALK)

SCHULTZ:  Ten thousand dollars for a photo?  Why did Desiree Rogers—

(CROSS TALK)

SCHULTZ:  To ask to even set the price at that level in these economic times, for a congressional member, I think it‘s gross. 

HANRETTY:  Oh, come on. 

SCHULTZ:  I know a little bit about Minnesota and its economy right now. 

HANRETTY:  You know what‘s gross?  Your president just did a deal with

-- 

SCHULTZ:  He‘s your president do. 

HANRETTY:  Our president just did a deal with pharma, and they agreed. 

They helped write this health care bill.  Now they pledged to run ads.  What is it, six million worth of ads in democrat districts, pumping them up over these health care bill. 

SCHULTZ:  Time-out.  Time-out.  You can see they cannot defend it, so they have to attack Clinton or—

(CROSS TALK) 

PRESS:  Pardon me, my turn.—or attack Obama.  All I‘ve got to say, Ed, is it‘s a lot of money to pay for a photo with two psychos.  They‘re both psychos.  And they have been in the psycho room. 

HANRETTY:  That‘s the beauty of private capital.  You can spend your money how you choose.  You don‘t think anyone‘s spending 10,000 dollars at the DNC or DCCC? 

SCHULTZ:  I just want to say, anyone who spends 10,000 dollars, period, for any photo with any politicians is nuts. 

(CROSS TALK)

SCHULTZ:  Great to have you with us, great rapid fire tonight.

Coming up, the Supreme Court just rolled out the red carpet so the Chamber of Commerce can buy their way to victory in the midterms.  This ruling is just the beginning of the end, in my opinion.  More in the playbook here on THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in my playbook tonight, this is a story I think the Democrats can really pay attention to in the midterms and I think strike a nerve.  The Chamber of Commerce is already ramping up for the midterm elections.  They built a grass-roots campaign operation that has six million members.  Their main goal is to target vulnerable Democrats and replace them with republicans.  I got it. 

They have a budget of 200 million dollars, which in real America is a lot of money.  That‘s twice as much as the Chamber of Commerce spent during the 2008 campaign season.  The recent Supreme Court decision to allow unlimited corporate campaign contributions, well, it makes it possible for these guys to have unprecedented influence in elections. 

This will end up, I believe, changing our entire political system.  Maybe I‘m a little extreme there, but I believe that.  I believe this is a defining moment.  We‘re going to see corporations essentially buying election victories, especially at the local level.  That‘s right.  That money is going to filter down. 

Now, they‘ll get young right-wingers into office at county levels, which will eventually allow big business to take over the political system.  Am I too extreme?  A lot of progressives agree with me.  Progressives need to get it really in gear and come up with a plan to push back on this, and push back on these guys.  Otherwise, they‘re going to get caught flat-footed and they‘re going to be powerless. 

My next guest doesn‘t quite see it eye to eye.  He has more political experience than me.  I revere his opinion.  Let‘s go to Democratic strategist Steve McMahon tonight. 

I see this, this money filtering down to that dirt road in middle America, in a county election—we have Johnny over there; he‘s a good upcoming conservative; we got to make sure he wins this election; where can we get some corporate money to flow right in here?  By the way, we‘ve got those unlimited campaigns.  Steve, I think that‘s going to happen. 

STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  You know what?  It may happen. 

Certainly, the Supreme Court creates the opportunity for that to happen.  But I will say this—by the way, labor‘s going to step up its game too, if it‘s going to match some of this corporate money that‘s coming in.   

But I‘ll say this, I think there are a lot of reasons why, as a practical matter, it doesn‘t have quite as much effect as maybe you think it does, Ed.  The first is sophisticated players were already there.  Most of these big interests that are spending money have been spending money already.  They‘ve been doing it through issue ads, which to somebody like me, who‘s a lawyer and makes ads, I can see the difference between an issue ad and a campaign ad.  But most regular Americans don‘t, because they fill the air waves.  You‘ve seen them.  They‘re on right now almost non-stop. 

SCHULTZ:  But Steve, they‘ve never had this new word in the dictionary called “unlimited.”

MCMAHON:  They haven‘t, except in five states.  One of those states is a state I live in, Virginia.  I think if you‘re a CEO—by the way, I think Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin have the right idea, to say, OK, if the Supreme Court is going to lay this opinion on us, which most Americans, whether they‘re conservative or liberal, agree is a bad decision—if the Supreme Court is going to do that, we‘re going to require disclosure.  We‘re going to require CEOs to stand by their ads, just like candidates do. 

I think what‘s going to happen is, if you are the CEO of General Electric, Ed, you‘re not going to want to say, I‘m the CEO of General Electric and I approve this ad.  They‘re not going to do it.

SCHULTZ:  We haven‘t gotten any interviews with any of the insurance CEOs.  They have ice in their veins.  And if there‘s a tax commissioners race that‘s going to be favorable to business—to big business, I see them filtering money into state races for tax commissioners, for insurance commissioners.  I think this—and the union money is a fraction of what the corporations give, even in the last cycle that we went through.  So I think it‘s dangerous stuff. 

MCMAHON:  It is dangerous stuff.  But, again, if you‘re a corporate CEO, you have shareholders, presumably, who are wondering what the return on investment is.  The fact is that the most reliable predictor of an outcome of an election is the partisan performance in that race.  And money doesn‘t often change the outcome to the degree that most people think. 

SCHULTZ:  It‘s hard to run against it. 

MCMAHON:  Ninety five percent of incumbents get reelected in the normal coarse of events.  That probably is going to continue. 

SCHULTZ:  We‘re living in some interesting political times right now.  All right, I think the progressives would be making a real mistake if they expect, hey, Washington has to fix this.  They have to come up with a game plan.  They‘ve done some phenomenal fund-raising in the past.  Some of these liberal groups that are out there, grassroot groups, they can get a million dollars overnight.  But it is going to be a heavy lift to compete with unlimited corporate funds.  I think it‘s the tip of the iceberg. 

MCMAHON:  It will be a heavy lift if corporate America comes through in the way that the Supreme Court would enable them to.  But remember, the Obama campaign raised more money—

SCHULTZ:  Would they raise that now? 

MCMAHON:  There are progressive groups out there, and there are party committees out there that can absolutely put it together, and they need to.  You‘re right, they have to step up their game. 

SCHULTZ:  Steve, great to have you with us.  Thanks so much. 

MCMAHON:  Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, Attorney General Eric Holder says Osama bin Laden will be killed before he ever sees the inside of a courtroom.  Conservatives say Holder doesn‘t realize we‘re at war.  We‘ll debate this one next.  Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Our final segment tonight, Republicans have been working hard to make the Obama administration look weak on terror.  At a hearing on Capital Hill yesterday, Attorney General Eric Holder took a lot of heat for his decision to try 9/11 terrorist suspects in civilian court.  But when the suggestion came up that Osama bin Laden would be tried in a U.S. court, Holder fired right back. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN CULBERSON ®, TEXAS:  Granting Osama bin Laden the right to appear in a US courtroom, you are clothing Osama bin Laden with the protections of the U.S. Constitution.  That‘s unavoidable, and something you‘ve skipped right past.  And it‘s giving constitutional rights to enemy soldiers that is the profound problem, sir. 

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL:  We‘re talking about a hypothetical that will never occur.  The reality is we will be reading Miranda Rights to the corpse of Osama bin Laden.  He will never appear in an American courtroom. 

CULBERSON:  But it is -- 

HOLDER:  That‘s a reality.  That‘s a reality. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  That‘s about the best intel that we‘ve had on Osama bin Laden.  For more, let‘s bring in our panel tonight, Jack Rice, former CIA agent, and Cliff May, president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.  Cliff, why would Holder go there? 

CLIFF MAY, FOUNDATION FOR THE DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES:  I agree with Holder that it would be great if Osama bin Laden were dead, but—and because I want vengeance for the people that killed.  But it would be even better, actually, if Osama bin Laden could be captured alive, properly interrogated, and we could find out everything he knows about how al Qaeda operates, so we can save lives in the future. 

And General Stanley McChrystal, who is the most important commander in Afghanistan, said, as you know, well, we haven‘t given up on capturing him alive.  That‘s a possibility as well.  So I think this is a live argument over whether Eric Holder or the Pentagon, people like Stanley McChrystal, people like Bob Gates, are in charge of this war.  And is it a war?

SCHULTZ:  Jack, isn‘t this a straw-man argument? 

JACK RICE, FMR. CIA AGENT:  Of course it is.  This is obvious.  If we think about what it is the GOP is doing, they‘ve been making this argument for years, that they‘re the ones who understand terrorism and that Democrats are weak.  Clearly—

MAY:  Let me say, Jack, I‘m not making that argument. 

(CROSS TALK)

MAY:  I‘m trying not to make this a political thing.  I‘m trying, from a policy point of view—do you not agree with me, if we could kill him, it‘s good, but as a CIA guy, if we could capture and interrogate, it would be better? 

SCHULTZ:  It would obviously be better.

MAY:  So Holder is wrong.

RICE:  But it‘s an unrealistic question.  It basically is a paradigm which does not exist.  Hold on, let me finish this.  The problem here is that will never be the case.  What this is—and I understand you don‘t want this to be political, but the GOP members in the Appropriations Committee, that is exactly what they‘re trying to make this.  They‘ve been trying to argue this from the get-go. 

Holder was absolutely correct when he talked about, originally, trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in lower Manhattan.  That‘s absolutely the best place for him to be tried. 

SCHULTZ:  Isn‘t our intel that he‘ll never be taken alive?

RICE:  I think, realistically, there‘s no way they‘re going to get this guy alive. 

MAY:  We don‘t know for sure.  Khalid Sheikh Mohammed probably would have preferred martyrdom and spending the rest of eternity in paradise with 72 black eyed virgins as well.  But, at the end of the day, he decided he would be taken.  He said, I won‘t talk to you until I see my lawyer.  Then, as you know—disagreement between us—he was coercively interrogated, spilled the beans about a lot of plots.  A lot of lives were saved.  Not a bad thing. 

SCHULTZ:  It is political fodder.  Here‘s Debra Burlingame.  She says

“putting Charles Manson in a civilian court didn‘t endanger any

intelligence secrets.  When he draws analogies like that”—meaning Holder

“that‘s when he loses people.  It appears as if he doesn‘t know we‘re at war.”   

MAY:  And by the way, Debra Burlingame, you should remind people who she is.  She‘s not a Republican activist.  Her brother was the pilot who flew into the World Trade Center in 2001.  She‘s been an activist on these issues ever since.  And she cares a lot about the policy. 

SCHULTZ:  Does that give her license to characterize Mr. Holder as we don‘t know we‘re at war, he doesn‘t know that we‘re at war? 

MAY:  Yes, in this country, we all have license to criticize public officials. 

SCHULTZ:  But the point that Jack was making and I‘m making, too, is that they are politicizing this. 

MAY:  I don‘t think it‘s politicizing to say that Eric Holder, A, has the policies wrong.  And B, that the attorney general shouldn‘t be running war policy for the United States. 

RICE:  But the problem we have there is what they‘re doing is they‘re actually falsely characterizing what it is that Holder has said, over and over.  This is the same argument we‘ve had heard about Obama. 

Hold on.

The point they‘ve said is that somehow President Obama and Eric Holder, the attorney general, don‘t understand that we‘re at war.  How many times do they have to say, they understand this. 

Heck, let‘s look at what they have done since they have taken office.  They have just fired two more missile strikes, will Hellfire Missiles from Predators, just today in Pakistan.  They have increased the number of those attacks by ten times over what we saw from the Bush team.  If you want to talk about aggressiveness, take a look at what they‘ve done in Afghanistan. 

Look, I‘ve been in Kabul.  I‘ve been in Kandahar.  I‘ve been across the country. 

MAY:  I have, too. 

RICE:  And what we find is if we‘re talking about sheer numbers, they‘re far more aggressive.  Yet, the GOP continues to make this standard refrain, oh, they‘re so weak, they‘re so pitiful, the Democrats don‘t know anything. 

MAY:  If I can, it is a mixed bag.  I agree with you that they‘ve used more drones than the Bush administration, by far, to kill terrorists with that.  Some of your friends in the Democratic party on the left object to that, say they have no right under international law to do that.  I‘m glad you guys disagree. 

But I think there are some things we can have a question.  Trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian court, that I think is arguable.  And the idea that the Christmas bomber should get his Miranda Rights read to him before they have had time to fully interrogate him, I think that was a mistake.  I think we all know that was a mistake.

RICE:  Did it work?

MAY:  Did what work?

RICE:  When you look at what Abdulmutallab gave up, it worked, without hesitation.  Come on.

(CROSS TALK)

SCHULTZ:  Gentlemen, we will continue the decision.  I love it.  I absolutely love it.  Good sports about the whole thing.  And we‘ll obviously have you back.  Thanks so much.

Tonight, in our text survey question, I asked, in deciding to vote yes for the health care bill, do you think Representative Kucinich out of Ohio did the right thing or sold out?  Ninety percent of you said he did the right thing; 10 percent says he sold out. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  Congressman Kucinich will be here tomorrow night to talk about that big decision here on THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.  Chris Matthews is next with a new edition of “HARDBALL.”  Stay with us.

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

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