Guests: Rep. James Clyburn, Markos Moulitsas
HOST (voice-over): Which of these stories will you
be talking about tomorrow?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: The bill is passed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Well, that was quick.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This legislation will
not fix everything that ails our health care system. But it moves us
decisively in the right direction. This is what change looks like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: The Republicans now vow to repeal—forgetting
apparently that a bill to repeal would probably be vetoed by the president.
The politics on the ground with Howard Fineman; what‘s next with
Lawrence O‘Donnell; and welcome to Waterloo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID FRUM, CONSERVATIVE JOURNALIST: We went the radical way
looking for Waterloo, and it looks like we arrived at Waterloo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Where Frum‘s Republicans were surprised to find they
were Napoleon and they were getting their asses kicked by Wellington.
Are any Republicans listening to Frum‘s warning to steer out of the
skid? Or are they too busy screaming “baby killer” at him, or go back to
Mexico at him, or the F-word at him, or the “N” at them? The debate is
over, but the racism lingers on. My special guest: Majority Whip James
And tonight, the “Special Comment”: When the count of isolated
incidents reaches double figures—those are not isolated incidents, they
are tea partiers.
And the sheer glee of the stories sweeping the nation—no, not
that. That‘s good. This—
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Cornell to the sweet 16.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: You have no idea just how unlikely this really is. This
was a basketball program stranded four decades ago on the road because the
coach had spent the travel money on hookers—from way downtown, bang!
All the news and commentary—now on COUNTDOWN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Big Red makes them pay (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Good evening from New York.
With President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress having
accomplished what nearly every American president since Teddy Roosevelt had
failed to do, to establish near-universal health care coverage in the
United States, the Republicans immediately announced they had a
parliamentary weapon that would bring down the entire reform bill.
Breaking news at this hour on which Lawrence O‘Donnell is just
completing his reporting, the Senate parliamentarian has declared the
Republicans‘ weapon a dud. Details presently.
First, the brief historic history. At 10:45 last night, the House
having passed the health care bill—legislation that was viewed as dead
two months ago. The House then approving changes to the Senate bill, the
so-called “reconciliation” sidecar which goes next to the Senate for final
Speaker Pelosi and committee chairs today are holding a ceremony to
sign the original Senate bill before sending it to the White House for the
signature of the president. Mr. Obama is likely to sign the bill himself
into law tomorrow morning. He watched last night‘s vote from the Roosevelt
Room of the White House with staff, about 40 all tolled.
According to the press secretary, Mr. Gibbs, when the yeas hit 216,
there were, quote, “cheers and clapping, a high-five for Rahm Emanuel, hugs
Shortly after the vote, the president claiming victory not for
himself, not for his party, but for the people that his health care reform
legislation seeks to help.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: For most Americans, this debate has never been about
abstractions, the fight between right and left, Republican and Democrat.
It‘s always been about something far more personal. It‘s about every
American who knows the shock of opening an envelope to see that their
premiums just shot up again when times are already tough enough. It‘s
about every parent who knows the desperation of trying to cover a child
with a chronic illness, only to be told “no” again and again and again.
It‘s about every small business owner, forced to choose between insuring
employees and staying open for business. They are why we committed
ourselves to this cause.
Tonight‘s vote is not a victory for any one party. It‘s a victory
for them. It‘s a victory for the American people. And it‘s a victory for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Last summer, the “Boston Globe” reported that when the
president was asked why he was fighting for health care reform, he replied,
quote, “I promised Teddy.” Earlier today, Senator Kennedy‘s widow, Vicki,
revealing that as the House debated the Senate bill on Sunday afternoon,
she visited her late husband‘s grave site at Arlington National Cemetery
outside Washington, saying she thought it was an important day to be there.
Tonight, Mrs. Kennedy is expressing her gratitude to the president,
the speaker and Democrats in Congress in an interview with CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CNN)
VICKI KENNEDY, TED KENNEDY‘S WIFE: I think it‘s a real—a real
tribute to all of them, and I am deeply, deeply grateful, as I think are
all the American people. And the more we talk about this bill and talk
about what‘s in it, I think that there will be such overwhelming approval
and support. You know, Teddy always said when we finally pass health care
reform, and when people understand what‘s in the bill and what benefits
there are for them, they‘re going to say, “What took you so long.” And I
think that‘s going to happen here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Keeping Americans from understanding what‘s in the bill,
job one for Republicans in the wake of last night‘s defeat, now pretending
they actually have the power to repeal the bill once signed into law.
Republicans of all stripes today expressing their support for further bills
that would repeal the legislation already drafted and released by
Republicans in both chambers.
In the House, Steve King and Michele Bachmann each planning bills,
even though the House Republicans would have to gain 113 seats to have a
veto-proof bill. As is Jim DeMint of South Carolina in the Senate.
Senator McCain is sending out an e-mail asking “for your urgent
support to help me fight this bill.” By support, the Arizona Republican
meaning a generous contribution of $25, $50, $100, $250 or more.
On ABC this morning, the senator is making big claims, most of them
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA: I think it‘s terribly wrong for
America and so do the majority of Americans. With all this euphoria that‘s
going on that‘s inside the Beltway, champagne toasting and all that,
outside the Beltway, the American people are very angry and they don‘t like
it, and they‘re going to—and we‘re going to try to repeal this, and we
are going to have a very spirited campaign coming up between now and
November. And there will be a very heavy price to pay for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: For more on what happens next, we turn now to the man
who on November 6th—November 6th—said the final vote would not be
until March, our own Lawrence O‘Donnell, a former chief of staff on the
Senate Finance Committee, now contributor to the “Huffington Post” and
winner of the COUNTDOWN pool for when the damned vote would take place.
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, I wish we put a
dollar on that one.
OLBERMANN: You could have gotten good odds on it.
OLBERMANN: All right. Let‘s talk about the breaking news that you
are in fact breaking which the Republicans—
O‘DONNELL: Well, yesterday, the Republicans issued this press
release which was rushed into our MSNBC coverage. I tried to explain it.
It took five minutes to explain what it was yesterday on MSNBC. They
thought they had the nuclear bomb here, what they call a “310(g) point of
order,” a point of order involving Social Security. If Social Security is
affected by this bill, the whole bill goes down. It can‘t go through the
Senate without 60 votes to overrule that ruling.
This case was brought to the Senate parliamentarian today by
Democratic—presented by Democratic staffers who are expert in
parliamentary rules and Republican staffers in the room at the same time
with the parliamentarian. I spoke to one of the staffers who was in the
room presenting this case, and I said, “Well, I suppose Alan just sat there
and nodded,” Alan‘s the parliamentarian. He said, “Yes, he doesn‘t give up
much, he just nodded there.”
There was a moment in the discussion when the Democratic staffers
cited a 1995 precedent on a 310(g) point of order that they believed
O‘DONNELL: This is very narrow stuff. And the parliamentarian was
quite taken with it and asked the Republicans if they wanted to respond to
that and they couldn‘t, because they at that time did not yet know about
the 1995 case. The Republicans have time, the rest of the day to respond
When I was speaking just within the hour to a staffer who was in
that meeting, he got an e-mail while talking to me from the Senate
parliamentarian ruling in favor of the Democrats ahead of time. This is
the kind of ruling they will issue ahead of time because it could bring
down the whole bill if it went the other way.
And so, as I said yesterday when I saw this, my own guess was the
parliamentarian was going to rule in favor of the Democrats on this. More
importantly, if this was the best that the Republicans had by way of point
of order challenges on the Senate floor, then they don‘t have much.
OLBERMANN: And that‘s why you always keep your “Robert‘s Rules” in
your back pocket.
O‘DONNELL: I keep the phone numbers of the guys who know this—
OLBERMANN: I still have mine from college. The—once again, a
Republican looking for a weapon of mass destruction has found nothing. Are
there smaller weapons? More weapons still parliamentarily?
O‘DONNELL: Yes, there are. The Democratic staff and these people
know this better than anyone. They‘re not completely 100 percent confident
that they‘re going to get every sentence past the parliamentarian. They
privately feel—they‘re going to be some there are nervous about, but
these people are always nervous. You know, they‘re like me. They‘re very
reluctant to predict an easy landing on anything.
And the people I trust the most, talking about this, feel as though
it‘s probably going to get through the Senate intact, but they‘re going to
be nervous every minute they‘re on the floor.
OLBERMANN: All right. Let‘s turn then to what would—what other
obstacles might be thrown at this by the Republicans in the Senate. What -
- if this was their best bet and it has been formally—they have been
formally told, “Take it off the table,” it means nothing, Social Security
is not affected by this—what do they turn to next?
O‘DONNELL: They may find a point of order that might strike a
sentence or a provision or a small piece of the bill. Now, if that
happens, it can take 60 votes to simply overrule that finding and keep the
bill intact. Democrats won‘t get the 60 votes, they know that. So, it is
possible that some small provision might get stripped out of this bill by
It is also possible that an amendment could pass. You know, over
the weekend, Harry Reid brought a letter, an unsigned letter, to the House
of Representatives, promising them that they had a majority of signatures.
No one knew how many signatures until I asked Bart Stupak yesterday, “How
many signatures did he tell you he had?” Fifty-two.
Now, 52 is not as impressive as you‘d like to see at this point. I
then was able to ask Senator Stabenow who signed it, that your signatories
mean that you will vote against every single amendment that is brought up?
And she said, “That‘s what I mean, but that‘s not necessarily what everyone
So, for example, if I bring up an amendment that‘s really, really
tough for a senator from Ohio to vote against, maybe I peel off—my
strategy is—if I can peel off a senator from Ohio, I might be able to
pass a Republican amendment. And all that does in the end is send the bill
back to the House one more time—which is standard procedure. I mean,
all we‘re trying to avoid here is a standard outcome of having to have the
bill go back to the House one more time for final passage.
Your worst-case scenario is, it goes back to the House one more time
for final passage, which will be done very quickly.
OLBERMANN: So, ultimately, the implications of what you‘re
reporting tonight is: this was the Republicans—probably their best
O‘DONNELL: Their very best chance.
OLBERMANN: -- to derail the entire bill. Now, the best they can do
is put a slight dent in it.
O‘DONNELL: Yes. This bill is absolutely going forward. And I can
also report that Harry Reid intends to start this sooner. Earlier today,
they were talking about they might start at Wednesday. He has now put out
a call for presiding officers, which is to say junior senators who will sit
in the Senate chair as the presiding officers for 24 hours a day, starting
So, they may be starting on this late tomorrow after the signing
ceremony of the original Senate bill.
OLBERMANN: Wow. Lawrence O‘Donnell, who‘s done everything here in
the last month with my great thanks, and now appears as our breaking news
reporter—we appreciate all that—and personally, my great thanks to
you for the last month.
O‘DONNELL: Thanks, Keith.
OLBERMANN: We‘ll see you soon.
Let‘s turn now to our own Howard Fineman, senior Washington
correspondent for “Newsweek” magazine, for the big political picture.
Howard, good evening.
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That was great listening
to Lawrence. Boy, once a Senate guy, always a Senate guy.
OLBERMANN: I got flash back of Professor Martin at Cornell in 1978,
FINEMAN: I knew you were going to get a Cornell plug in here. I
OLBERMANN: But there‘s a whole segment later on. Hitting me in the
head with the book when I got something wrong.
So, was this, in fact, the Republicans best bet to do anything with
FINEMAN: I think Lawrence has it right, because the Social Security
thing would have been a death charge. The rest of this stuff, they can
nickel and dime it, may well force it back to the House, but it doesn‘t
But keep in mind, Keith, let‘s not take our eye off the ball here.
The main bill, the one the president is going to sign tomorrow, that‘s 90
percent of what we‘re talking about -- 90 percent of what we‘re talking
about in terms of health care reform. These other things in reconciliation
were sweeteners for the House liberals and others. So, the main thing is
what the president is going to sign in a great ceremony tomorrow.
OLBERMANN: All right. And the main thing that left to the
Republicans about this and into the midterms is this idea of repealing it.
Have they forgotten that unless they get veto-proof majorities in the
midterms, any repeal effort would be vetoed by the president? And we‘re
talking about a 26-seat net gain—a 26-seat swing in the Senate and a
113-seat swing in the House.
FINEMAN: Yes. Well, there‘s never been—
FINEMAN: -- a swing like that.
But this isn‘t about mathematics, Keith, it‘s about theology. And
fundraising, as you pointed out.
The Republicans are sort of going for the un-promised land, you
know? They see this in the future, they want to keep promising their base
that they‘re going to do something that the members of Congress know they
I would agree with those who say, including John McCain, that
there‘s a lot of anger and confusion and concern out in the country,
because this is a big, confusing bill—the way it was done created a lot
of controversy. But the Republicans aren‘t interested in fixing anything.
They‘re interested in holding out this kind of almost anti-messianic hope
that they‘re somehow going to be able to repeal the thing. I think they
know that it‘s probably impossible.
Nothing‘s impossible in politics. This is close.
OLBERMANN: What is it of the things that are going to take effect
quickly that will be noticed by the average American who is not plugged
FINEMAN: Well, it‘s interesting, because actually, technically,
most—even the so-called immediate things don‘t happen the day that the
president signs the bill really. It‘s going to take some regulations—
six months for some of even the immediate features like making sure that
children don‘t get knocked out of coverage because they have a preexisting
But what‘s going to happen here is that insurance companies who know
they‘re going to be regulated by the federal government in a way that they
haven‘t are going to want to—some of them I think—are going to want
to try to be good citizens and follow the spirit of the law—I asked
Robert Gibbs, the press secretary, about this today—follow the spirit of
the law even before the regulations kick in, technically six months from
OLBERMANN: I‘d be—I‘ll pay money to see that happen. But after
the last year—
FINEMAN: Well, they want to get—they want to get in the
exchanges—Chuck Todd pointed out to me, they want to get into these
exchanges that will eventually be created.
OLBERMANN: All right. The point we were going to start before
Lawrence had this—the news about the parliamentarian‘s ruling, was how
the secret to how this actually happened after being dead for two months.
We‘re going to talk about it for 15 minutes. We now have a minute.
How did it happen? In a minute.
FINEMAN: OK. Persistence by President Obama, who comes from a
country of long-distance runners and was one; persistence in canniness by
Nancy Pelosi and Rahm Emanuel, the speaker and the chief of the staff who
know the House and how it works. Compromise, because this bill does not
have the public option, Keith, it does not have single-payer. This, in
some ways, is a preservation and enhancement, if you will, of the existing
Clever parliamentary maneuvering, pressure on Democrats, mistakes by
the Republicans who painted themselves into a corner with the insurance
industry, attacks on the insurance industry, last-minute deals involving
the student loans which will make the reconciliation bill work, and a deal
with Bart Stupak on abortion at the end—that‘s how it all went down.
I always thought they were going to pass it. I never knew how.
OLBERMANN: You know the head line, by the way, unless we fix this
right now. Like you just said, that the president comes from a nation of
long-distance runners—you mean, he‘s descended from—
FINEMAN: Descended from. Excuse me.
OLBERMANN: Otherwise the head line is, “Fineman, the birther.”
FINEMAN: The birther. No, descended from.
OLBERMANN: Howard Fineman of MSNBC and “Newsweek” and birther
weekly, not really—thank you, Howard. Good to talk to you again.
FINEMAN: Thanks, Keith. You too.
OLBERMANN: So, we‘ve got that going for us now. But unhappily, the
attacks continue on Congressman Lewis, on Congressman Cleaver, on
Congressman Rodriguez, on Congressman Frank, on Congressman Stupak. Some
of them defended are now by a Republican congressman from California.
Congressman Jim Clyburn—next.
And later, a “Special Comment” on how politics has changed this, how
it obviously hasn‘t, and how the Republicans still appear to be convinced
the earth is flat and more over, that they own it.
OLBERMANN: Before I talk with House Majority Whip James Clyburn
about the appalling racism and homophobia of the tea party protesters
inside Congress over the weekend, this is an appropriate place for me to
thank you from the depths of my heart for all the messages of condolence
and the contributions to the National Association of Free Clinics after the
death of my father. At the age of five, all of us look at our dads and see
a hero and time then places him in a healthy perspective. At the age of
50, I had the privilege of seeing that perspective erased and to have that
hero back. More in a moment.
OLBERMANN: To recap the breaking news of this hour, our Lawrence
O‘Donnell is reporting that the Senate parliamentarian has indicated he
will rule against a Republican complaint about the measure to change the
health care reform bill back and forth between the Senate and the House.
The Republicans were claiming it would affect Social Security, and Social
Security cannot be addressed by reconciliation. The Republican claim was
that—and Lawrence is reporting that the Senate parliamentarian has
notified both parties in the Senate that he will turn down that Republican
bid to upend health care reform and the reconciliation process.
To resume—on full display as the health care reform bill moved
towards victory, the full kaleidoscope of hate speech. Worse, some
Republican lawmakers encouraged that misdirected anger and one was the
actual source. Shouting from the House floor, something more typical of an
enraged protester, such as those egged on by Congresswoman Bachmann and
other Republican lawmakers from the balcony outside the speaker‘s lobby
Sunday afternoon. Ms. Bachmann later took turns with other GOP lawmakers
speaking to that crowd.
Just a coincidence that inside over the weekend, Congressman Barney
Frank, who is openly gay, had to listen to at least three different
homophobic slurs by protesters. The congressman has responded, quoting,
“Obviously, there are perfectly reasonable people that are against this,
but the people out there today on the whole, many of them were hateful and
Another strong case in point, protesters shouted the N-word at
Congressman John Lewis and Andre Carson. “I‘ve heard this before in the
‘60s,” Congressman Lewis said. “A lot of this is downright hate.”
A protestor spit on Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, who is also
African-American. Hispanic Congressman Ciro Rodriguez was called a racial
slur often directed at Hispanics, specifically Mexicans.
And from the House floor, Congressman Bart Stupak was shouted down
with the phrase, “baby killer.” GOP Congressman Randy Neugebauer, a
birther, who introduced a birth certificate bill to the House last year,
has confirmed he said it. He has apologized—though he says his words
were in fact, “It‘s a baby killer,” referring to the bill, not to the
congressman, even though that makes almost no sense grammatically.
We‘re joined now by the House majority whip, the gentleman from the
sixth district of South Carolina, Congressman James Clyburn.
Congressman, good evening.
REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC), MAJORITY WHIP: Good evening, Keith.
Thank you so much for having me. And let me offer my condolences as well.
OLBERMANN: I‘m very moved. Thank you, sir.
Let me start with what will last out of this. Congratulations, and
I assume you think that this is, if not signed and sealed and delivered,
impossible to divert from being signed, sealed and delivered.
CLYBURN: I think so. We will go to the White House tomorrow. The
president is going to sign the first bill. The fixes will make—the
Senate will start working on that on tomorrow as well. I understand they
have established 20 hours of debate, and they plan to try to get this done
between now and Sunday.
So, I do believe that the country is going to see a very
comprehensive health care plan that is going to be accessible, affordable,
OLBERMANN: To what happened over the weekend before the vote, the
abuse and the venom that was behind it. John Lewis said he hadn‘t heard
some of this stuff since 1960. What—you were there, you saw it.
OLBERMANN: How do you—how do you explain this? Can you?
CLYBURN: Well, I don‘t know that you can—except that I joined
with John Lewis in that assessment of what we saw on Saturday, especially.
I experienced some of it. I didn‘t hear the slurs, but the chants, the—
some of the venomous comments from people, you wondered what that was all
We‘re trying to have a civil debate on how to proceed into the
future with health care for our citizens. I don‘t think there‘s any place
for some of the stuff that we heard and the stuff that I heard about. That
is just—should not have a place in how we go about trying to fashion
legislation. And I was so sorry to hear it.
I just celebrated, Keith, last Monday, the 50th anniversary of the
march that I helped to organization down in Orangeburg, March 15th, 1960.
In talking with those students on those two campuses last Monday, they
asked us a lot of questions about how we felt, what we experienced. And I
said to them at one point, we did a lot of things back then so they as
students would not ever have to go through that again.
I‘m not too sure now that I don‘t need to modify some of that.
OLBERMANN: Something that I think dovetails with what you just
said. This is from the conservative online thing, the “National Review.”
It‘s a quote. “Racism in America is dead.” “We now have the occasional
public utterance.” “Real racism has been reduced to menace levels.” I‘ll
vote for the first politician with the brass to say that racism should be
dropped from a national dialogue.”
Do people say this you suppose because they‘ve never been personally
the victims of racism? Do they say it to reassure racists that they‘re not
really racist? Do you have any theory about a statement like that?
CLYBURN: Well, you know, I‘ve always said that we are but the sum
total of our experiences. And I think that if you have never experienced
it, maybe you don‘t recognize it when it‘s there in front of you. But when
you‘ve been through this and you look at—into the eyes of people like we
did on Saturday, you‘d know that there‘s something very much alive in the
hearts and minds of a lot of people in this country. If you look at some
of the faxes that I got today, racial slurs, nooses on the—on gallows,
and I‘m telling you, some very vicious language.
This stuff is not all that isolated. It‘s pretty widespread. I
hope it‘s not too deep.
OLBERMANN: What about the Republican lawmakers who cheered on
occasion over the weekend the protesters who were escorted away? And we‘re
not necessarily saying these are the particular ones who abused Mr. Lewis
or any of the other congressmen. But should they—is there not a point
which you say, “I can‘t support a group that permits this to be
CLYBURN: Well, the lawmakers who were cheering did so on the floor
of the House. I saw at least a dozen lawmakers clapping as the people up
in the gallery were trying to disrupt the proceedings of the House. Now,
that is a violation of the decorum of the House.
Now, I know some of my colleagues are saying, “Let‘s just move on.”
But, you know, we said the same thing back when we had the outburst when
President Obama came to speak to a joint session, and we wanted to just
Now, at some point in time, we are going to have to allow for the
rules of the House to take hold and be adhered to. You can‘t just make up
the resumes rules as you would have them be and recognize whatever it is
that you want to recognize. That, we have got to bring a stop to.
OLBERMANN: Agreed. Those protesters will never apologize to you or
Mr. Lewis or Carson. So, I‘ll have to do it for them.
My great thanks and my—by proxy—apology for them.
Congressman James Clyburn—and also congratulations on all your
efforts in the last two years on this.
CLYBURN: Thank you so much, and thanks to you for all of your
efforts as well.
OLBERMANN: I‘m just a by stander but a happy one. Thank you.
CLYBURN: Thank you.
OLBERMANN: It was the Republican Senator Jim DeMint who predicted
health care reform would be President Obama‘s Waterloo. A top conservative
columnist now says he was completely, only the Republicans were Napoleon
and Obama was the winner, Wellington.
Next on COUNTDOWN.
OLBERMANN: On the day before health care reform passed the
Congress, the leader of the House Republican Caucus, Mike Pence, told
members he did not know whether victory would come on the third Sunday of
March or the first Tuesday of November—this according to “Politico.”
The implication that a Republican loss on health care translates into
Republican victories on election day. House Republican Leader John Boehner
Tweeted today that “59 percent of Americans oppose Dems‘ health care
reform,” citing a new CNN poll.
Either Boehner assumes or he thinks his followers are dumb enough to
assume that this means Americans are so outraged by passage of health care
reform they will punish Democrats in November and elevate Republicans,
possibly even to the point that Boehner replaces Nancy Pelosi as speaker of
Glenn Beck today was also gloating, thanking progressives for
passing health care, thanking them for proving him right about, you know,
socialism, communism, botulism, et cetera.
But what Mr. Boehner neglected to mention in citing that CNN poll is
how that 59 percent opposition breaks down. Thirty nine percent of the
country favors the health care legislation as-is; 43 percent oppose it
because it‘s too liberal; 13 percent oppose it because it‘s not liberal
enough. Meaning 52 percent of the country either approves of the new bill
or thinks it does not go far enough; only 43 percent think it goes too far,
after six months of endless fear-mongering and baiting.
Boehner thinks that‘s a formula for Republican victory in November.
In fact, political reporter Marc Ambider has a post up today at “The
Atlantic” headlined, “Republicans in Disarray.”
Why? According to Ambider, quote, “with their entire strategy
having been upended by the Democratic health care victory, the party is in
disarray. There is no fall-back on health care, none.”
And then there is David Frum, former speech writer for President
George W. Bush. Predictably Frum is no fan of reform, despite his
admission it looks remarkably like earlier Republican efforts to reform
health care. But unlike Boehner and Beck, Frum calls last night‘s vote the
Republican party‘s Waterloo, referring to Republican Senator Demint‘s boast
from last year, echoed then by Newt Gingrich and GOP Chair Michael Steele,
that health care reform would prove to be President Obama‘s Waterloo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID FRUM, FMR. SPEECH WRITER TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: In
this debate, Republicans have listened to the most radical voices in the
party; no compromise, hand the president his Waterloo. If this turns out
to be our Waterloo today, then there has to be an accountability moment for
that, to say this is going to be a much worse outcome than we could have
got if we would have negotiated early.
That was shouted down. We went the radical way, looking for Waterloo
and it looks like we arrived at Waterloo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Quoting, “When Rush Limbaugh said he wanted President
Obama to fail, from wrote yesterday, “he was intelligently explaining his
own interests. What he omitted to say, but what is equally true, is that
he also wants Republicans to fail. If Republicans succeed, Rush‘s
listeners get less angry. And if they are less angry, they listen to the
Let‘s bring in Markos Moulitsas, founder and publisher of
DailyKos.com, and author of “Taking on the System, Rule For Radical Change
in a Digital Era.” Great thanks for your time tonight, sir.
MARKOS MOULITSAS, DAILYKOS.COM: Great to have you back on the job,
Keith. And I‘d like to say, on behalf of the “Daily Kos” community, my
condolences—our condolences for your loss.
OLBERMANN: Greatly appreciated and greatly felt. Thank you,
kindly. To Mr. Frum; in your opinion, what he did get right and what did
he get wrong this weekend?
MOULITSAS: He‘s right. This is a long-term disaster for the
Republican party. And they staked everything on their ability to
completely annihilate the Democratic agenda. They have clearly failed on
the key signature issue for Democrats coming into this Congressional cycle.
So that‘s not a good place for Republicans to be.
I think where he fails, though, is he—things that—had
Republicans compromised, things would have been better for Republicans.
They would have had a bill that‘s more palatable to them. I think the
problem with that is the reason Republicans really oppose this is, for the
first time ever, government now has admitted it has a responsibility to
provide for the health care of the American people, that health care is a
right, not a privilege.
So going along with Democratic efforts to pass some kind of health
care reform may have helped them in the short term. But long-term, if
their goal is to completely deny the ability of government to help the
American people, they could not have accomplished that goal by helping
Democrats pass this.
OLBERMANN: There seemed to be an implication in what Frum was
saying that there has to be some accountability. And it doesn‘t seem to be
coincidental that he mentioned the fervor whipped up by Beck and by
Limbaugh. But they can‘t be scapegoats because the party leadership chose
to acquiesce to these loose cannons, because it benefited the party
MOULITSAS: I think it‘s almost the other way around. I don‘t think
the party leadership is that enamored with Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.
In fact, early last year, if you remember, a couple of the leadership, a
couple people in the Republican leadership criticized Rush Limbaugh. But
they had to walk that back within 24 hours because once Rush Limbaugh sort
of let loose his millions of listeners on these guys, it got really ugly
for those Republicans.
So I think these Republicans are more afraid of being on Rush
Limbaugh‘s bad side, as opposed to thinking Rush Limbaugh has the solutions
for the Republican party. Quite clearly he doesn‘t. I think he‘s leading
them off a cliff.
OLBERMANN: Josh Marshall, at “Talking Points Memo,” argues that
nobody remembers how Medicare or Social Security passed. And that‘s true
now. It was not true in 1966. There was a huge and unfortunately a hugely
racially oriented backlash against Democrats in those midterms that year,
after two years of extraordinary civil rights gains and changes in society,
as such as Medicare. Originally, the Social Security one had a backlash to
it as well. Any estimate, genuinely, of what kind of effect health care
could have this November?
MOULITSAS: Well, I think Josh Marshall is right, that nobody cares
how it passed. I mean, we‘re talking the procedure of how it passed. The
-- you know, was it bipartisan or not, was it passed by reconciliation, by
deem and pass, all those—nobody cares about that.
They do care that it passed. And you‘re going to have a polarized
nation moving into November. I think what the difference is—and this is
what Republicans don‘t seem to understand—is that they want to talk
about health care. They think it‘s their path to electoral victory. The
thing is, we also want to talk about health care, too, because we think
that once people see what the details are, they‘re going to like what they
see. They‘re going to want to go back on these gains.
OLBERMANN: Don‘t forget, 113-vote Republican swing in the House so
they can get a veto-proof majority there. You bet. Put the money down
now. Markos Moulitsas of the “Daily Kos,” always a pleasure. Thank you,
MOULITSAS: Thank you very much.
OLBERMANN: Special comment ahead; the Republicans may not have met
their Waterloo. Maybe it‘s closer to Selma. Only they‘re not the
protesters at Selma.
OLBERMANN: Health care reform passed and Cornell went to college
basketball‘s Sweet 16, on the same day. The odds of them happening in the
same millennium. My special comment on politics in the wake of the passage
in a moment.
But first, do you realize how unlikely this basketball thing really
is? I mean, look, Cornell doesn‘t even have its own ball. They practice
with rolled up tape. Not really, but it might as well be true.
The last Cornell alum to retire from the National Basketball
Association did so in 1951. The last Cornell victory in March Madness
before this one, the NCAA tournament, was never.
Then, on Friday, they upended the 12th rankle team in the country,
Temple. Yesterday, they led Wisconsin 11 to one and then they got better.
Cornell won by 18, led by 26 points from Louis Dale.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOUIS DALE, CORNELL BASKETBALL: We‘ve got eight seniors on this
team and we want to take this ride as long as we can. Because after this,
it‘s just nothing but babies and memories. So we want to keep going.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OLBERMANN: Print up those t-shirts now, “nothing but babies and
memories.” To advance further, Cornell, which does not give out athletic
scholarships, now only has to beat the top-ranked team left in the
tournament, Kentucky, on Thursday night. Maybe not.
But until then, we own this tournament. And judged by the history
of Cornell basketball, that is impossible. Thirty three seasons ago, a
friend of mine named Pat Lyons opened up the public address microphone at
the Cornell gym and absent-mindedly announced, “good evening, ladies and
gentlemen. Welcome to Cornell Big Red hockey.”
He laughed, the hoops fans laughed. He corrected himself; “I‘m
sorry, good evening, welcome to Cornell Big Red basketball,” whereupon the
basketball crowd booed.
And this was in the middle of possibly the worst sequence of coaches
in college basketball history. The ways the stories were told to me, it
was the first guy who stranded the team on a road trip because he
supposedly spent all the money on hookers. He was replaced by the coach
who supposedly cut all the non-whites from the team.
His successor claimed the refs were racist and that‘s why they
called all the fouls on his team. They replaced him with a coach who
supposedly screamed at his halftime at some tournament and didn‘t realize
the wall to the locker room was only a curtain separating it from the media
center. So when he shoved one of the players, the guy went flying through
the curtain and onto the media snack table.
And now, until Thursday, anyway, we own this tournament.
OLBERMANN: Finally, as promised, a Special Comment in the wake of the
passage of Health Care Reform. And it‘s a first step, there‘s a lot wrong
with it, but the penalty for not paying the fine for not buying the
mandatory insurance has now been reduced to nothing.
So, blessings nonetheless on those who took this first step. Pat
yourselves on the back. And, tomorrow morning, get back to work fixing
what is still wrong with our American Health Care system. These remarks
are about our political climate in the wake of this bill‘s passage.
Eight days ago, a 16-year old kid picked up a courtesy phone at a
store in Washington Township, New Jersey, and announced over the public
address system, quote “Attention, WalMart customers: All black people leave
the store now.” The boy has been arrested and charged with harassment and
Two days ago, a Tea Party protestor shouted the “N” word at
Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, one of the heroes of 20th Century
America, and Congressman Andre Carson of Indiana. And another shouted
anti-gay slurs at Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts.
Capitol Hill Police confirm no arrests were made and there were no
serious efforts to identify the vermin involved. Television, print, and
radio news organizations will not be asked to turn over their tapes and
images of the event, nor subpoenaed if necessary.
This is not to dismiss what the 16-year old did in New Jersey. But it
would seem that what was shouted at the Congressmen merits at least as much
investigation and hopefully as much prosecution. After all, it did occur
inside the halls of Congress, a place at least as crowded as, and as
sanctified as a WalMart.
But in a backwards, sick-to-my-stomach way, I would like to thank
whoever shouted at Mr. Lewis and Mr. Carson for proving my previous point.
If racism is not the whole of the Tea Party, it is in its heart, along with
blind hatred, a total disinterest in the welfare of others, and a full-
flowered, self-rationalizing refusal to accept the outcomes of elections,
or the reality of democracy, or of the narrowness of their minds and the
equal narrowness of their public support.
On Saturday, that support came from evolutionary regressives like
Michele Bachmann and Jon Voight. On a daily basis that support comes from
the racists and homophobes of radio and television: the Michael Savages and
the Rush Limbaughs. Shockingly, that support even came, on a specific
basis, from another Congressman, Republican Devin Nunes of the California
“When you use totalitarian tactics, people, you know, begin to act
crazy,” he said on C-SPAN. “And I think, you know, there‘s people that
have every right to say what they want. If they want to smear someone,
they can do it.”
Congressman Nunes, you should resign. You have no business opening a
door for a man like John Lewis, let alone serving alongside him. And if
you shouldn‘t resign for your endorsement, your encouragement, of the most
vile, the most reprehensible, and the most outdated spewings of the lizard-
brain part of this country, you should resign because of your total
disconnect from reality.
There have been no “totalitarian tactics,” Congressman. People, these
few, sad people, have begun to act crazy, because it has been the dedicated
purpose, the sole method and sole function of the Republican party, to
entice them to act crazy.
Those shouts against the Congressmen, Mr. Nunes, were inspired not by
what people like John Lewis have done in their lives. They have been
inspired by what people like you have done in the last year.
And so the far right escalates the rhetoric and the level of threat,
just a little more. And worse still, it escalates the level of delusion.
The election of a Democratic president is socialism. The election of a
black president is an international conspiracy. The enactment of any
health care reform is an apocalypse. And the willful denial of reality by
the leader of the minority party in Congress is the only truth.
A willful denial, incidentally, that includes the leader of the
minority party in Congress ignoring the fact that his is the minority
party, and that he represents the minority, and that despite having broken
all the rules of decorum in place in this nation since the end of the Civil
War, that despite having played every trick ƒ_” mean and low—despite
having the limitless financial backing of one of the biggest cartels in the
world, he and his cronies and the manufactured outrage of the Tea Party
failed to derail health care reform.
Failed Mr. Boehner. You lost. You blew it. “Shame on each and every
one of you who substitutes your will and your desires above those of your
fellow countrymen,” you said last night just before the vote. The will and
desire of your countrymen, Mr. Boehner?
If you‘re one of the leaders of a party that in four years coughed up
the Senate Majority, coughed up the House Majority, coughed up the White
House, coughed up health care reform, and along the way ignored every poll,
and every election result, I would think the “will and desires of your
fellow countrymen” should be pretty damn clear by now: your countrymen
think your policies are of the past, and your tactics are of the gutter.
But Boehnerƒ_Ts teary “shame on you” over the tyranny of the vast
majority taking a scrap back from the elite clueless minority, that‘s just
an isolated incident. Just as Congressman Neugebauer shouting “Baby-
Killer” at, or “it‘s a Baby-Killer” during, Congressman Stupak‘s laudable
speech last night was just an isolated incident.
Just as the shouting of “N” words at Congressmen Lewis and Carson was
just an isolated incident. Just as the spitting on Congressman Cleaver was
just an isolated incident. Just as the abuse of Congressman Frank was just
an isolated incident. Just as the ethnic slurs shouted at Congressman
Rodriguez of Texas was just an isolated incident. Just as the oinking by
Congressman Wilson during the President‘s address was just an isolated
Just as whatever‘s next will be just an isolated incident. You know
what they call it when you have a once-a-week series of isolated incidents?
They call it two things. They call it a “pattern” and in the United States
of 2010 they call it “the Republican Party.”
American political parties have disappeared before. They are never
forced out by their rivals. They die by their own hands only, because they
did not know that the hatred or the myopia or the monomania they thought
was still OK wasn‘t OK, any more.
And so I offer this olive branch to the defeated Republicans and Tea
Partiers. It is a cold olive branch. It is scarred. There aren‘t many
olives on it, but it still counts. You are rapidly moving from “The Party
of No,” past “The Party Of No Conscience,” towards “The Party of No
Relevancy.” You are behind the wheel of a political Toyota. And before
the midterms, you will have been reduced to only being this generation‘s
home for the nuts.
You will be the Flat-Earthers, the Isolationists, the Segregationists,
the John Birchers.
Stop. Certainly you must recognize the future is with the humane, the
inclusive, the diverse. It is with America. Not the America of 1910, but
the America of 2010. Discard this dangerous, separatist, elitist,
backward-looking rhetoric, and you will be welcomed back into the political
discourse of this nation. But continue with it, and you will destroy
yourselves and whatever righteous causes you actually believe in. And on
the way, you will damage this country in ways and manners untold.
But even that damage will not be permanent. Faubus, and the MacNamara
Brothers, and Bull Connor, and Lindbergh, and Joe McCarthy damaged this
nation. We survived and they were swept away by history. You cannot
destroy this country, no matter how hard you seem to be trying to. Nor can
you destroy this country‘s inexorable march towards the light.
The Belgian Nobel Prize winner Maurice Maeterlinck once wrote that,
quote, “at every cross-roads on the path that leads to the future,
tradition has placed 10-thousand men to guard the past.” Last night those
10,000 men fell.
Good night and good luck.
And now it is my pleasure to introduce my very good friend, Rachel
Maddow. Rachel, good evening.
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