updated 1/3/2011 5:43:50 PM ET 2011-01-03T22:43:50

Guests: Sherrod Brown, Joe Sestak, Joe Crowley, Reverend Al Sharpton, Karen

Hunter, Tony Blankley, Joan Walsh, Arlen Specter

ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Good evening, Americans, and welcome to THE ED SHOW tonight, live from Minneapolis.

These stories are hitting “My Hot Buttons” at this hour.

A political threat to start the holiday season.  Mitch McConnell says Republicans will work with President Obama, but only when the president does exactly what they want.  So, how does that square with this No Labels group in Washington? 

My commentary on that, plus reaction from Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Congressman Joe Sestak coming up. 

The 9/11 first responders went to Washington today and put the heartless Senate Republicans to shame.  This was powerful, and everyone needs to hear it.  I will play it for you, coming up. 

And Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is trying to walk back his glowing review of pro-segregation groups in the South.  Reverend Al Sharpton has something to say to the governor about that at the bottom of the hour. 

And outgoing Senator Arlen Specter, his amazing chop block on some of his Senate colleagues.  This is a senator who really is concerned about what has happened in the institution of the Senate that he so clearly loves. 

Senator Specter will join us in “The Playbook” tonight.  Just why did he do that on his last day in the Senate? 

And this is the story that has me fired up tonight, folks. 

President Obama is on the verge of another major victory in the waning days of the lame-duck session of the Congress.  The START treaty will get an up-or-down vote as early as tomorrow, Wednesday.  A few Republican senators drifted across the aisle to help move the vote forward. 

But, folks, don‘t kid yourselves.  The Republicans are still out there to destroy President Obama and the Democratic Party and the progressive movement in this country. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell issued this year‘s—this new year‘s threat to the Democrats: “There‘s much for them to be angst-ridden about.  If they think it‘s bad now, wait until next year.”

Gosh, Mitch, why don‘t you put coal in their stocking right away? 

McConnell has been acting like Vito Corleone ever since the midterms.  First, he bragged that he wanted to make President Obama a one-termer.  And then, of course, he held Americans hostage on the tax cuts. 

McConnell has just doubled down against the president, saying this:

“Any time the president is willing to do what we think is in the best interests of the American people, we have something to talk about.”

OK, Mitch.  I guess you‘re going to be making us an offer that we just can‘t refuse. 

Well, you know, I think liberals tonight are saying, you know, how do you deal with these people?  There is no reasoning with these folks, because the only thing that they understand is power. 

Senator Arlen Specter took to the Senate floor to say good-bye and to tear into the mess Republicans have made of the Senate. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  In some quarters, “compromise” has become a dirty word.  Senators insist on ideological (INAUDIBLE) as a precondition.  Politics is no longer the art of the possible when senators are intransigent in their positions. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Specter is exactly right.  Republicans have turned “compromise” into a dirty word. 

Remember John Boehner in his most recent interview?  He couldn‘t even use the word. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER ®, MINORITY LEADER:  I am not going to compromise on my principles, nor am I going to compromise the will of the American people. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Anything else need to be said? 

Republicans have turned American politics into a never-ending attack machine.  The crazier they get, the meaner they get, they think the better off they are.  This leaves the Democrats with a choice.  Now, Democrats and liberals can either roll over and play dead, or they can fight fire with fire. 

Now, the new Washington group No Labels, here they come to the rescue. 

They want Democrats to lay down and play nice with these Republicans. 

Folks, we are living in really tough political times.  We are in an ideological fight for the country right now.  We either want to reserve the institutions that made this country great or we want to go off and worship the God Almighty dollar. 

Let me tell you about these absolutes.  I think this No Labels group in Washington is a joke. 

I don‘t think they are connected to political reality of the time.  And it‘s easy to get on cable and talk about how we are going to get everybody to play together on this, but here‘s the absolute.

They are absolute on the right wing about their tax cuts.  They are absolutely going to try to repeal health care reform, which is going to hurt millions of Americans.  They are absolutely going to attack labor like they have been doing for the last 25 years.  They absolutely are going to go after and support the union busters. 

And, of course, they love this most recent ruling by the Supreme Court of unlimited funds going into campaigns.  And, of course, the little guy is going to have his voice squashed out in America‘s democracy. 

So, you No Labelers out there, can we carol together this holiday season?  I don‘t think so.  I don‘t want to get along with you. 

I think you are wrong, and I think you are naive.  And I think we need debate in this country. 

And I think that we can go back to just a few weeks before the start of the Iraq War, our invasion, when Robert Byrd stood up on the Senate floor and said, “This chamber is ominously silent.” 

We went into war, and you know the rest of the story.  There was no debate.  We bought everything hook, line and sinker. 

So, I think this No Labels group wants to just wear down liberals in this country and say, you know, you‘re angry.  You know, you‘re off the rails, you‘re out of line, you‘re over the top. 

Wait a minute.  Because I‘m for Social Security, and because I think I have an audience that watches, that believes in the institutions of America, just because I support that and universal health care, and I think the rich should pay their fair share, doesn‘t mean that I‘m out of touch.  And it doesn‘t mean that me associating with the No Labels crowd is going to preserve all those great institutions in this country. 

The ideological fight for America is on.  This president has had a great first two years, far better than your good buddy Ronald Reagan, over there on the right.  Far more legislative accomplishments affecting more people‘s lives. 

And you know what really gets you Republicans?  You‘ve got your tax cuts.  In fact, you got everything you wanted. 

President Obama has delivered the mail time and time again.  He may not have taken the path that we like, and maybe he hoodwinked a few of us along the way, but you cannot—you cannot argue with this lame-duck session of the Congress, and you cannot argue with the historical perspective of the performance of this Senate the way they have obstructed at a record number of filibusters. 

So if the No Labels folks want to call Ed and be on the program, when it comes to understanding, as Clint Eastwood said in his movie, “I‘m fresh out.”

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

My question tonight is: Do you think the number one priority for the Republicans is to defeat President Obama in 2012?  Press the number 1 for yes, press the number 2 for no.  And I‘ll bring you the results later on in the show. 

Joining me now is Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown. 

Senator, good to have you with us tonight. 

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO:  Good to be back, Ed.  Nice article about you by Howard Kurtz today, man.  You are my hero. 

SCHULTZ:  We‘ve got to tell it like it is, Senator.  We can‘t back down.  Thank you.

BROWN:  I like that story about the—I like the story about the homeless shelter, Ed, but go on.  Sorry.  Great story. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ:  Well, it‘s the truth.  Thank you.  I appreciate that, sir. 

BROWN:  It tells me something about the kind of person you are. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, and I think from the record of what we‘ve seen of Mitch McConnell here in his most recent comments, after you compromised and you voted with the president and a lot of Republicans, this is what you get from Mitch.  He is putting out a political threat in this holiday season, saying you better work with them again, or next year is going to be worse. 

How do you feel about that? 

BROWN:  Well, I feel the same way I do when I hear Mitch McConnell say that his number one goal is that Barack Obama be a one-term president.  I mean, he has voted against almost everything. 

He has tried to block the START treaty.  I think he is going to lose on that.

He tried block “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell.”  He did lose on that.

He tried to block the DREAM Act.  Unfortunately, he won on that. 

But it‘s clear to me that this guy, no surprise, his major goal is for Barack Obama to fail.  And he tried block unemployment benefits.  I mean, all the things that—it is not just the stuff Democrats care about,  it‘s stuff that a large swath of the American people, the great majority of Americans, care about things like this. 

They wanted “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” repealed.  They wanted unemployment benefits.  They want the START treaty, as does the entire establishment that knows these issues—former secretaries of state, all that.

So, pretty clearly, his view is that if he blocks everything, Republicans win, even if he is blocking what the American people want.  Because people haven‘t really quite figured out what this guy is about and what their strategy is about. 

It‘s up to us.  It‘s up to you on this show.  It‘s up to senators and congressmen and activists to make sure the public gets it, what this guy is doing, because he is going to try to do it for the next two years.  And it‘s going to be a real clear choice, whose side are you on in 2012, and we‘ve got to convince the public what this guy is doing and what we stand for. 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, do you have any hope at all for the No Labels group that wants to bring Republicans and Democrats together in Washington in this political climate?  Is that possible, in your opinion? 

BROWN:  Well, I would think it‘s possible if I would see Republicans compromise occasionally.

You know, there‘s no—somebody pointed out a couple of things.  One is, the Republican—the Democrats keep moving to the center and the Republicans keep moving to the center.  I mean, that really is what happens.  So why do we keep moving to the center?

The other thing is there are no real, with maybe the exception of two or three, there are no real moderates in the Republican Party.  They are all way over here.  I guess to your viewers, they are way over here.

And the Democrats have people sort of in the whole spectrum.  I mean, there are moderate Democrats, there are progressive Democrats.  There are even some conservative Democrats.

So Republicans are way out on your right wing here where they don‘t compromise, they are scared of their base.  Clearly, you watch these votes, they are scared of being criticized by—they are scared of primaries. 

I mean, Dick Lugar showed great courage by being for “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell” and—I‘m sorry, yes, supporting “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell”—or no, he supported the DREAM act, I‘m sorry.  By supporting the DREAM Act and by supporting START.  And this is probably going to hurt him in Indiana with somebody like me admiring his courage, because the right wing is probably going to come after him, because they tolerate --  

SCHULTZ:  Sure they will. 

BROWN:  -- no dissent.   And that scares most of these guys that don‘t have as much guts as Dick Lugar, are just moving to the right, moving to the right, because they are scared. 

And so, you know, that makes this more dysfunctional.  But in the end, it comes back to us showing what we stand for, in making that contrast, and whose side are you on? 

SCHULTZ:  Senator, good to have you with us tonight.  I appreciate your time on this subject. 

BROWN:  Thanks, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  And we are hopeful for something positive to take place with this next session of Congress. 

BROWN:  Well, I‘m optimistic for the next two years.  I appreciate that. 

SCHULTZ:  Thank you.  Thank you very much. 

BROWN:  Thanks.

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Joe Sestak, Pennsylvania, joins us.  He was invited to be the featured speaker at the No Labels launching ceremony. 

Congressman, your thoughts on No Labels?  I mean, the Republicans don‘t act like they are really looking to compromise on anything.  It‘s their way or the highway.  So are you hopeful for this group? 

REP. JOE SESTAK (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  I don‘t know how the group is going to end up, but I heard what Mr. Boehner said, and you played it.  He said he wouldn‘t compromise his principles.

I don‘t think anybody should.  But I do think there should be a principled compromise.  Let me give you an example, what I think should be done. 

Senator Kennedy, I don‘t think you could have a more progressive senator than that.  But he was able to effect, with Senator McCain and later on, President Bush, pretty conservative guys, a principled compromise on immigration, and actually would have put behind us a problem that still sits there. 

Now, my point is this, is what I told No Labels.  It isn‘t enough to say you are going to try to reach across the aisle. 

What I look at with disdain in Washington, D.C., is once they brought that principled compromise in, nobody would touch it in either party because, heaven forbid, if it affected your base all the way.  And I feel that that lack of accountability, Ed, is what most troubles our nation. 

People aren‘t willing to lose their job over a health care bill.  They are not willing to lose their job over doing what‘s right in a principled, compromised way. 

SCHULTZ:  But the bottom line here is, Congressman, is that this country wasn‘t built on people who were political fence-riders.  This country was built by strong personalities who took a stand that fought for people.  And this No Labels is, in my opinion, no progress. 

Your response? 

SESTAK:  No, I don‘t know where No Labels is going to go, but I do know this—I come from the U.S. military, Ed, and you know that.  And in there, it‘s all ideas are on the table.  And at the end of the day, you do what‘s right. 

Look, I came down here as a Democrat.  And you know me.  I didn‘t compromise in either my primary or my general elections—

SCHULTZ:  No, you didn‘t. 

SESTAK:  -- on one position.  But I was willing in my district, which is 53 percent Republican, 33 percent Democrat, to let them know I understood their concerns.

In fact, after spending $3.5 million in my first election, we only spent $28,000 in my second election.  And my point is this—it‘s Hatfields and McCoys here. 

Now, do I believe that progress needs to be made, and that often, it‘s the progressive movement that does it?  Sure.  Think about it. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes. 

SESTAK:  It did it from freedom to suffrage to civil rights to equality.  Let‘s take “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell.”  But there‘s a way, I think, to effect it. 

It means bitter debate.  Don‘t bend your principles.  But I think like Ted Kennedy did on education with George Bush, you can get principled compromise. 

And I think in the meantime, what‘s happened is—

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

SESTAK:  -- we‘re not moving forward.  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  No, we‘re not.  

Congressman, great to have you on.  Thanks so much.  I appreciate your time tonight.

SESTAK:  Always a pleasure, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is trying to walk back his shocking racist comments.  Reverend Al Sharpton won‘t let him get away with it.  He sounds off in “The Battleground” story tonight.

Heartless Republican senators are blocking health care for 9/11 heroes.  When it comes to tax cuts, well, that cost doesn‘t seem to bother them, but helping the heroes is another story.  Republicans at their worst, coming up. 

Plus, Senator Arlen Specter goes without a bang today.  He joins me live in “The Playbook.”

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW, and thanks for watching tonight. 

The Republicans in the Senate have come up with yet another excuse not to help heroes of 9/11.  For all the stunts that they have pulled the past two years, I still can‘t believe that we are in a place in this country where the Republicans are playing politics with the health of those men and women who raced to Ground Zero to save fellow Americans after the terrorist attack took place. 

The Republicans love to wrap themselves in the flag come election time, don‘t they?  But they just don‘t give a damn about the first responders bill and, you know, an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.  Why is it taking so long? 

The latest excuse comes from Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn, who is blocking the bill because he doesn‘t like the process. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TOM COBURN ®, OKLAHOMA:  This bill hasn‘t even been through a committee.  We haven‘t had the debate in our committee on this bill to know if it is the best thing to do.  We haven‘t had the testimony to know whether—this is a bill that has been drawn up and forced through Congress at the end of the year on a basis to solve a problem that we didn‘t have time to solve and we didn‘t get done. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Senator, were you living underneath a rock back on September 11, 2001? 

Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi is helping him.  He claims the GOP just wants to fix it.  Enzi told Politico, “I‘m not trying to fight it, I‘m just trying to get it right.”

Give me a break.  Tell it to the people who were at Ground Zero. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DET. GLEN KLEIN (RET.), 9/11 RESPONDER:  Fourteen of our guys died that day.  And I—we continue to see our friends dying on a day-to-day basis.  I have lost at least six other friends since 9/11, guys in their 50s, 40s, and even some in their 30s. 

This is not a game.  OK?  This is human life that we are talking about. 

CAPT. PHIL RIZZO (RET.), 9/11 RESPONDER:  For me, it‘s sad what I see here.  You know, in six or seven months, that pile was cleaned up by the people behind me and hard working American citizens.  And now we come down here to this political football. 

JOHN FEAL, 9/11 RESPONDER:  I implore Senator Coburn—and, correct me if I am wrong, the senator is a doctor, right?  So, I‘m not the smartest guy in this room, but a doctor who is against helping people that are sick, figure that out. 

Who in this room has been to 44 funerals in the last four years? 

Raise your hand.  Anybody?  Me. 

Who is here, donated to each family of the loved ones that lost? 

Raise your hand.  Me. 

If I could do this, why can‘t the Senate? 

DEP. CHIEF RICHARD ALLES, UNIFORMED FIRE OFFICER ASSN.:  “Cancer” is a scary word, but my biggest fear right now is that senators and Congress reps will be leaving town, and that‘s unconscionable and contrary to their sworn oath to the very people that elected them.  I urge them to stay in town, to get the deal done, and protect these heroes that are standing behind me. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Those were 9/11 responders on Capitol Hill today. 

Joining us now is New York Congressman Joe Crowley. 

Congressman, our government told us back then that it was OK for the responders to go back into that area because the air was OK.  What responsibility does the government bear, in your opinion, and why has this taken so long? 

REP. JOSEPH CROWLEY (D), NEW YORK:  I think the government has every responsibility to make sure that these victims are compensated for what they went through. 

I lost my first cousin that day, Battalion Chief John Moran (ph).  His last known words were, “Let me off here at Tower Two.  I‘m going to try to make a difference.”

We in Congress now have the chance to make a difference in those victims‘ lives, in these people‘s lives.  It‘s the holiday season.  Christmas is coming. 

It‘s not just about the victims themselves.  Their children, their families need to know that their government will stand behind them when they stood behind this government back on 9/11. 

SCHULTZ:  And what kind of a chance do you give it at this point, with time running out on this lame-duck session, that these first responders will get what‘s coming to them? 

CROWLEY:  I believe we can still get this done.  It may not happen tonight, but I believe we can get this done by tomorrow.  And I‘m willing to stay here for as long as we possibly have to, even through Christmas, to make it happen. 

It is that important to me, it‘s that important to the New York delegation.  And I think it is important to the country as well that we accomplish this mission. 

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

CROWLEY:  Thanks, Ed.  Good to be with you. 

SCHULTZ:  Joe Crowley from New York, here on THE ED SHOW.

CROWLEY:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  You bet.

Coming up, the kids on “Fox & Friends” had a great time making fun of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.  But I‘m getting the last laugh on this one. 

Gretch, Dooc (ph) all in “The Zone” next.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, the brain wizards over at “Fox & Friends” took a quick break this morning from whining about the war on Christmas to launch some cheap shots at the Obama administration‘s counterterrorism efforts. 

Gretchen Carlson and Steve Doocy, well, they went crazy over a slip of the tongue by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE DOOCY, “FOX & FRIENDS”:  Janet Napolitano said this jaw-dropper

--

JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY:  And what I say to the American people is that we are—and thousands of people are working 24/7, 364 days a year to keep the American people safe. 

GRETCHEN CARLSON, “FOX & FRIENDS”:  Oopsy daisy. 

DOOCY:  Three hundred and sixty-four days a year.  So, the key is what day, Madam Secretary, does the Department of Homeland Security take off? 

CARLSON:  Well, maybe it could be Christmas Day, because that‘s kind of what happened last year, when that almost Christmas bomber was able to pull off a major stunt on an airplane. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  First of all, Gretch, the key word there is “almost.” 

The Christmas bomber didn‘t get away with it, but righties still love to use that incident to slam the Obama administration. 

And second, Gretch and Doocy are the last people who should be making fun of someone for misspeaking.  In fact, for those two to mock Secretary Napolitano‘s slip of the tongue when most of what they say is complete nonsense is laughable “Psycho Talk.”  

Coming up, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is backtracking on some racist comments.  Kind of a pattern here, isn‘t it?  I don‘t buy it.  He is playing the classic Republican race card. 

Reverend Al Sharpton blasts off on the governor in just a moment in “The Battleground” story. 

“Caribou Barbie” rolled into her home state for a book signing and nobody showed up.  I guess they quit on her the way she quit on them. 

“Rapid Fire Response” coming up in a moment. 

Plus, the bully across the river, Chris Christie, meets his match;

President Obama is coming back strong; and it might really be over for Brett Favre.  Can‘t we talk him into one more year? 

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW, the “Battleground” story tonight, amazing, isn‘t it?  Civil rights groups are outraged at Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour after he praised pro-segregation white citizens‘ councils in the south.  In an interview with “The Weekly Standard,” the governor of Mississippi said this, “You have heard of the citizens councils.   Up north, they think it was like the KKK.  Where I come from, it was an organization of town leaders.  In Yazoo City, they passed a resolution that said, anybody who started a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan would get their ass run out of town.”

Well, citizens‘ councils were formed in the 1950s as a mainstream way to fight for racial segregation, after the Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional.  Today, Barbour put out a statement to clarify those citizens councils were a bad thing.  He says, “To my point, was that the town rejected the Ku Klux Klan but nobody should construe that I mean—I think the town leadership were saints either.  Their vehicle, called the citizens council is totally indefensible, as it is segregation.”  

It was a difficult and painful era for Mississippi, the rest of the country and especially the African-Americans who were persecuted in that time.  I don‘t buy it.  Barbour is a seasoned politician from the south.  I think that he knew exactly what he was saying and it was that same old republican race card, plus, he has a pattern of racial slipups.  What does he really think?  Where is the Republican Party on this? 

Reverend Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, joining us tonight.  Reverend, on the surface, your thoughts on this and do you accept his statement in the aftermath of his first comment?

REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK:  Well, I think what we—you know, all of us in earlier years, we have said things that we regretted, this wasn‘t a slip of the lip.  This is him making a detailed defense of the White Citizens‘ Council and trying to distinguish their role in the segregation era.  And I think that it is something clearly he had to backtrack on.  But the question is, had he not become an issue would backtrack, and whether not the strategy of throw something out there and then pull it back after you kind of wink and send a signal.  This organization he is referring to was founded as a result of the brown versus board of education of the decisions against segregation.  So how you can try and act as though they were something  different and then come back to it three days later after the uproar, I think it is very, very troubling especially when you‘re looking at key figure in the midterm elections and the Republicans win this year.  So, you are not talking about somebody that we don‘t have the right to question. 

SCHULTZ:  Reverend, there seems to be a pattern of behavior here in these missteps because doing confederate history month of last year, there was no mention of slavery.  And of course there were racial concerns about that.  And Haley Barbour said that that didn‘t amount to diddly.  How many times—go ahead. 

SHARPTON:  Well, he said that didn‘t amount to diddly.  He also said in this same interview over “The Weekly Standard” that civil rights wasn‘t a big problem during his time and that he remembers going to a speech of Dr. King and they were more interested in the girls.  So, I mean this whole pattern here of the person that is at the helm now of this republican victory, clearly, can you imagine if President Obama had said something even remotely like that on the other side what they would be doing.  So, I think that you have the absolute right to raise the questions on Barbour, particularly because there is pattern of statements here and particularly because we are not talking about the slip of the lip but we‘re talking about an analysis of the social order of that time that I think that is very telling, if that‘s his views today of what happened in the ‘50s. 

SCHULTZ:  Would something like this deep six his political aspirations when it comes to the presidency because he has talked about it?

SHARPTON:  Well, I think that if it doesn‘t deep six it, it ought to deeply question it and I think that he needs to answer the whole pattern and not just send out a statement after this kind of detailed analysis, coupled with he said before.  I think that clearly if he is going to step in the ring, he needs to have to deal with all of the blows and the insensitivity.  Imagine those that in that time, I was born in ‘54.  Imagine those in that time, my mother‘s generation and others that were in the back of the bus, that suffered these indignities and it‘s no big deal?  Or the White Citizens‘ Council is better when they were advocating the same thing of segregation now and forever?  Imagine their feelings when they hear Governor Barbour act like that‘s just some pooh-pooh issue that he can sidetrack. 

SCHULTZ:  Reverend, always a pleasure, good to have you with us tonight speaking out again. 

SHARPTON:  Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  Thanks so much.

SHARPTON:  All right. 

SCHULTZ:  Now, let‘s get some rapid fire response from our panel on these stories.  I will get their take on Governor Barbour‘s comments about citizens‘ councils in the south. 

The Palin media machine planned a big book signing event in Anchorage and I guess you could say it was a total bomb.  I want to know if Sarah Palin‘s overexposed or the people she quit on just tired of her and does it affect her presidential ambitions? 

And a blow for blue states.  The new census data shows a shifting population, which means a lot of northern states will lose U.S. House seats in 2012, while the South and West stand to gain. 

With us tonight, Karen Hunter, a journalist and publisher, and also Tony Blankley, syndicated columnist.   Great to have both of you with us tonight.  Let‘s talk first, Tony about, if I can, the census.  Is this a big pick up, in your opinion for the Republicans and does it makes it tougher on President Obama to win re-election?  How do you think it breaks down?

TONY BLANKLEY, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST:  I don‘t think it affects the president‘s re-election but it does probably give the Republicans five, six, seven extra congressional seats.  This was predicted, I mean, everybody knows the general growth pattern in the country.  Now, some of the growth, of course is with Hispanic or Latino Americans, so how they end up re-dividing the vote in states like Texas, we will see  whether the next seat for the Republicans or not.  But generally it is good news at the congressional level for the Republicans.  

SCHULTZ:  Arizona, Florida, picks up a couple.  Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas is the big winner.  They have four.  Utah gets another seat and so does Washington.  And the House loser, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and New York will lose two seats.  Two seats also from Ohio and Pennsylvania one.  Those are some pretty strong democratic strongholds.  Those are states that President Obama won, Karen.  How do you see this?

KAREN HUNTER, JOURNALIST:  Yes, but you know it has gone back and forth, depending on who is running, depending on what is going on at the country at the time, depending on whether jobs are taking a forefront or economics or health care.  A lot of it depends on what is happening in the country at the time that these folks are running for office and I think that there‘s a lot of kind of homogeneous activity across the country.  Doesn‘t matter if you are from the north or the south, it is about the issues that affect people and I agree with Tony if we have a lot of Latinos and certain areas that may also tip the scales.  So, I don‘t think it is as, you know, big a deal as we are making it out to be. 

BLANKLEY:  One of the problems that will occur is that in the northern states, where largely Democrats are going to lose seats, it will create some friction as the Democratic Party has to try to figure out who is the sacrificial lamb.  So, like in Massachusetts, they are going to lose one, there is some rumor that Barney Frank may not run for re-election and thereby, let the rest of his fellow Democrats not have the to fight it out but that‘s the kind of thing, some of a huge deal but it also create some friction in the party.  

HUNTER:  Well, in the state like New Jersey where we now have a republican governor, you know, it could go either way and we have gone back and forth over the years.  So you know, let‘s see.  

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Haley Barbour‘s comments, Karen Hunter, did he rectify the situation in your opinion?

HUNTER:  No he didn‘t.  Because out of the heart, you know, overflows out of your mouth.  So, I mean, he is who he is and I was saying to Reverend Sharpton in the greenroom, this is man of a certain time, a certain age when a lot of folks, you know, we want to forget, Ed.  And I think this is why we need to have a real dialogue in this country about race, it is not black and white.  This is a time he grew up in where white supremacy and holding onto this whiteness was pointing that was just part and parcel of what this country was about.  

BLANKLEY:  This is really unfair to Haley.  I actually read the article in “The Weekly Standard” and I have it with me, where he was asked a question, why was Yazoo City which is a city he lived in, his brother was  mayor, his older brother, why was Yazoo City apparently the only municipality in Mississippi and elsewhere that did not have a problem with integration and his response specifically to that was, well, in his town, the council had opposed the Klan and he didn‘t say, in the article I read in “Time” magazine back in 1970, they said that they actually encouraged white people to support the public schools and not run away from them.  So he was responding. 

(CROSSTALK)

HUNTER:  He‘s going away from the reality of history.  The council were racist organizations founded on racist—you can‘t say it is unfair. 

BLANKLEY:  You are absolutely right.  The white council was racist but in Yazoo City, he was asked particular question and he gave the answer which was in his particular town, at that moment, they supported the integration.  

HUNTER:  So, what‘s unfair, Tony?

BLANKLEY:  What‘s unfair is he‘s saying that he was.

HUNTER:  Yes or no?

BLANKLEY:  He wasn‘t defending white councils across the south.  

HUNTER:  Sure, he was. 

BLANKLEY:  No, I read the article.  Here is the article right here. 

HUNTER:  Yes.  I read it, too.  Yes. 

BLANKLEY:  And he was asked this specific question.

HUNTER:  What are you saying is we didn‘t lynch people, the council didn‘t lynch people. 

BLANKLEY:  No.  That‘s not what he said.  

HUNTER:  No, as brutal as the Klan.  We didn‘t like the Klan.  They were making bad for us. 

BLANKLEY:  You are making that up.  He didn‘t say that, he gave a very specific answer to that question.  Now, look, there‘s another matter.  Most people, I don‘t think Haley was a hero or villain and most people, north and south, black and white, were not heroes or villains in the struggle.  There were some of each, but when you look for instance, at Martin Luther King‘s campaigns, in Albany, in Birmingham, he had to struggle hard to get enough black people out to demonstrate on behalf. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)

HUNTER:  It‘s a very complex issue.  We need to have a discussion about it.  I think mandatory reading.

SCHULTZ:  You can‘t deny it.  Tony Blankley, great to have you back with us. 

BLANKLEY:  Good to be back.

SCHULTZ:  Karen Hunter, always a pleasure. 

HUNTER:  Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  Thank you so much.  Good to have you with us tonight.  

Coming up, there are some real signs now that the people of New Jersey are standing up to their bully governor.  

And Senator Arlen Specter‘s amazing farewell speech today, where he ripped everyone from Jim DeMint to the Supreme Court.  Wait until you hear about it.  And Senator Specter joins us in the playbook.  Stay with us.  We are right back on THE ED SHOW.   

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Still not too late to let us know what you think.  The number to dial tonight is 1-877-ed-msnbc.  Tonight‘s telephone survey question is, do you think the number one priority for the Republicans is to defeat President Obama in 2012?  Press the number one for yes, press the number two for no.  And again, the number to dial is 1-877-ed-msnbc. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in my playbook tonight, this just in Senator Schumer of New York just said that there will be a vote tomorrow for the 9/11 first responders.  That vote will take place in the Senate.  

Meantime, is Senator Arlen Specter spent a 30-year career in—I think just did a fabulous job over the years but he is not going out quietly.  Today, he gave his closing argument on the Senate floor and with the Senate colleagues seated around him, he railed against the destructive partisanship in Washington.  His first target was the Supreme Court. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA:  The Supreme Court has been eating Congress‘ lunch by invalidating legislation with judicial activism.  Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito repudiated their confirmation testimony given under oath and provided the key votes to permit corporations and unions to secretly pay for political advertising.  Thus effectively undermining the basic democratic principle of the power of one person, one vote.  Chief Justice Roberts promised to call just balls and strikes and then he moved the bases.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  The republican turned democrat also took aim at members of his old party for their extremism in the recent election. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPECTER:  President Reagan‘s big tent has frequently been abandoned by the Republican Party.   Senator Lisa Murkowski lost her primary in Alaska.  Congressman Mike Castle was rejected in Delaware‘s republican primary.  Republican primary in favor of a candidate who fought in necessary to defend herself as not being a witch.  Republican senators contribute to the primary defeats of Bennett, Murkowski and Castle.  Eating or defeating your own is a form of sophisticated cannibalism.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Joining us now is Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter here on THE ED SHOW.  Senator, I think you did the country a favor today.  You had a fabulous career.  You did a lot for a lot of people over 30 years in the Senate and your final good-bye on the floor, you pointed out what‘s got to get better.  And I think you did more for the discourse than probably anybody has in recent months.  I want to congratulate you on that and I appreciate you doing it, from one American to another. 

SPECTER:  Well, Ed, I made some tough comments but they were accurate.  The compromise has become a dirty word.  And politics is the article of the possible but you can‘t engage in constructive political activity if people are intransigent. 

SCHULTZ:  Why has it gotten like this, senator?

SPECTER:  Well, it has gotten like this because collegiality and civility has gone.  Senators of one party go into the states of another senator‘s party to try to defeat him and even senators try to defeat colleagues within their own party.  Now, if you‘re trying to do some constructive work as legislators, pretty tough to do business with people who try to defeat you simultaneously.  And senators have been cut off from their opportunity to offer amendments.  I was very candid about both political parties.  

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ:  Senator, what if they don‘t change?  What if they don‘t change?  What if it‘s more of the same?

SPECTER:  Well if they don‘t change, Ed, then the voters have to change them.  Nobody around the Senate has life tenure.  We are not—we are not Supreme Court justices.  Listen, Senator Murkowski showed the way.  She was defeated by her own colleagues in a Senate primary.  She went out and had a spectacular victory.  And what did Murkowski‘s victory show?  It showed that if you arouse the electorate, if you get them out to vote, if you get them off their dead ends, they still want to be governed from the center.  So, it is up to the voters. 

And I call—I sounded the clarion call today to try to awaken America‘s voters as to how bad it is around here, how the Supreme Court is taking over, destroying the concept of separation of powers, how we are not appropriating money, where the priorities are with NIH.  How we are not engaging in constructive dialogue with our adversaries.  We have earned the title of ugly Americans and how the institution of the Senate has changed enormously and I was very specific in the differences between my arrival here to the world‘s greatest deliberative body 30 years as ago.  It just isn‘t so anymore, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  No it isn‘t. 

SPECTER:  I can‘t give it all to you in a sound bite.  But anybody who wants to get the detailed text, it is all in the record.  

SCHULTZ:  Senator, great to have you with us tonight, thanks for serving the country.  I think you did the country a favor today.  I appreciate it. 

SPECTER:  It‘s a great privilege.  Great privilege to be a senator, even yet.  Thank you. 

SCHULTZ:  Some final pages in my playbook tonight.  The garden state is finally starting to wise up to their bully of a Governor Chris Christie.  New Quinnipiac poll shows Christie‘s job approval rating falling to 46 percent compared to 51 percent on November 9th, this guy keeps bashing New Jersey unions and teachers, his numbers are going to continue to go right into the garbage dump. 

Coming up, call him the new comeback kid.  Republicans are trying to destroy him but the new numbers show that President Obama‘s job approval is surging.  Joan Walsh from Salon .com sounds off next.  Stay with us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Finally tonight, President Obama‘s poll numbers are going up and he is being called the comeback kid after chalking up several big wins during this lame duck session of the Congress.  Fifty five percent of Americans now think the president‘s policies will move the country in the correct direction.  In January, that number was six points lower at 46 to 49 percent.  No, that was November, not January.  And more good press for the White House.  PolitiFact.com has found that the Obama administration has either completed or is near completing almost 80 percent of the campaign promises. 

For more, let‘s bring in Joan Walsh, editor at large, Salon.com. 

Joan, here‘s the list that has passed in the lame duck session of Congress.  The tax bill compromise, whether you like it or not, the unemployment extension.  The repel of Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell.  The food safety bill and on the verge of S.T.A.R.T.  And we told tonight by Senator Schumer that there will be a vote for the 9/11 responders tomorrow in the Senate.  What do you make of all of this?

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR AT LARGE, SALON.COM:  Well, I think it shows us, Ed what a smart strategy it really was for the Republicans to become the party of‘ no because they decided, you know, the minute President Obama was inaugurated that if they could tie him up, if they could tie him in knots and prevent him from moving forward and helping the country move forward, they would do well politically and that happened.  Now that we have seen a little bit of progress, you and I did not like the tax cut compromise but we will leave that aside for the moment, you‘re seeing this people have more optimism and people think that the president‘s doing a good job because he is getting the tools, he is getting the votes to take action on things that the country believes should happen. 

SCHULTZ:  So, the numbers are encouraging.  So what is this—does this set the table for President Obama to turn back to his base and say, look what we‘ve done.  Now it‘s time to fight the Republicans and get them on a level playing field, now that they are going to have the house, the majority, they are going to have to make some decision and be more politically active.  What do you think?

WALSH:  Well, it‘s going to be interesting.  I continue to worry, first of all, a lot of these wins, you know, even five years ago, let alone ten years ago, these would have been easier wins.  I mean, we should not still be fighting over the 9/11 responder bill.  And we still haven‘t won that, let‘s hope Senator Schumer can bring it in.  “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell,” the majority of military leaders say, they wanted it.  S.T.A.R.T. was bipartisan.  So I‘m not sure that these—that these wins really portend big change in the Republican Party. 

SCHULTZ:  Yes. 

WALSH:  And you know, once they have the House, I think the president is going to be dealing with some very, very aggressive and recalcitrant people.  So I‘m not super optimistic. 

SCHULTZ:  Eighty percent of his promises from the campaign trail have become reality.  Why aren‘t his ratings higher?  Quickly, what do you think?

WALSH:  Well, because I think that the Republicans have succeeded in turning him into some wildlife socialist for too many of their—of their followers of which you and I know is not true.  And because they did tie him in knots and they didn‘t get enough done, although we got a lot done this year. 

SCHULTZ:  Joan, thanks so much.  Joan Walsh, salon.com.  

WALSH:  Tonight in our phone survey, I asked, do you think the number one priority for the Republicans is to defeat President Obama in 2012?  Ninety eight percent of you said yes, two percent said no that‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  “HARDBALL” starts right now.  We‘ll see you tomorrow night.  

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