updated 3/23/2010 2:20:25 PM ET 2010-03-23T18:20:25

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.

(CHEERING)

(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

Clyburn.

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)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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

approval there.

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

all around.”

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

common sense.

(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

false.

(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.

O‘DONNELL:  Yes.

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

favored them.

OLBERMANN:  Yes.

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

to it.

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—

(CROSSTALK)

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

the parliamentarian.

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

means.”

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

chance—

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

late tomorrow.

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,

hitting me—

FINEMAN:  I knew you were going to get a Cornell plug in here.  I

know it.

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

this?

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

derail it.

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—

OLBERMANN:  Exactly.

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

can‘t do.

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

into politics?

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

condition.

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

now.

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

system.

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.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

abusive.”

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,

and accountable.

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.

CLYBURN:  Yes.

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

about.

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

perpetuated”?

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

move on.

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.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

the House. 

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

radio less.” 

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

leaders, correct? 

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,

sir. 

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.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

bias intimidation.

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

21st.

“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

incident.

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.

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

BE UPDATED.

END   

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