updated 1/21/2011 12:45:08 PM ET 2011-01-21T17:45:08

Guests: Bernie Sanders, Bob Shrum, Steve Cohen, Roy Sekoff, Joe Madison, Michael Medved, Adam Green, Al Sharpton

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

These stories are hitting “My Hot Buttons” and on the table at this hour. 

Well, Mitch McConnell assures everyone the health care repeal will get a vote in the Senate—really? -- even though he‘s blocked more votes than anyone in Senate history. 

Folks, the Republicans are just playing political games because they have no plan for job creation.  My commentary on that and reaction from Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic strategist Bob Shrum, that is coming up. 

Joe Lieberman may be leaving the Senate, but he sure is taking the low road out of town.  Even today, he‘s still insisting Iraq was developing WMD.  Joe Lieberman, the man who still doesn‘t get it. 

Adam Green from the PCC with us on that tonight. 

And presidential wannabe Rick Santorum plays the race card against President Obama, which puts the Republican has-been in “The Zone” tonight. 

And more hate from Rush Limbaugh.  Reverend Al Sharpton, live, to discuss that and his crusade to get the FCC to clean up the airwaves.  Can he do it?  That story coming up later.

But this is the story that has me fired up first tonight. 

Less than 24 hours after House Republicans repealed the health car law, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is threatening a vote in the Senate. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ®, MINORITY LEADER:  Republicans have been listening, and now they‘re acting.  I want to congratulate our colleagues in the House on this important first step.  I hope the Senate will soon follow suit with a vote of its own.  The Democratic leadership in the Senate doesn‘t want to vote on this bill, but I assure you, we will. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  “I assure you.”  Calling the shots.  How can Mitch McConnell assure anybody of anything? 

Mitch, you don‘t run the fort over there in the Senate.  Now, you could pull some trickery to try to get some things done, but it isn‘t going to happen.

Folks, I think something big is under his sleeve.  McConnell must have some other deal in the works to threaten the Democrats with a vote in the Senate. 

We asked Majority Leader Harry Reid‘s office today—he, of course, actually runs the Senate—to respond to McConnell.  His office gave this interesting response to us: “Unlikely.” 

That‘s it, a one-word response, “Unlikely.”  A spokesman from Reid‘s office told us McConnell doesn‘t have the power to bring the bill to the floor on its own.  But, of course, you know, he can attach it to another bill and force a vote, trickery stuff.  It‘s a cheap political trick, is what it is, and the Republicans are just using this as a diversion. 

Republicans are not living up to what they said they were going to do. 

This is what McConnell said just two days after the midterm elections. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCONELL:  The American people want us to put aside the left-wing wish list and work together on helping to create jobs and restore the economy to health and prosperity.  There is no reason the two parties can‘t work together on achieving these goals. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  OK.  So threatening votes and all this kind of stuff is the best way to go?  It must be a tone thing again. 

Last fall, Republicans were yelling, “Where are the jobs?”  This is what they‘re talking about today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA:  We plan to stick with repealing this terrible bill, the government takeover of health care, not only in the House, but we‘re going to continue and stay with this until we get it through the Senate.  And if it means repealing the president of the United States and repealing a liberal Senate, then I guess that‘s what we have to do in 2012. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  That‘s their real plan.  But look at what John Boehner was talking about right after the health care bill passed.  “When are we going to begin to listen once again to the American people who sent us here to do their work?”

Gosh, we‘re really off track now, aren‘t we, Republicans? 

Boehner hasn‘t introduced—he has not introduced one piece of legislation to create jobs since he became the Speaker.  So where‘s the priority?  He doesn‘t have one, except repeal, repeal, repeal. 

Boehner isn‘t focused on jobs today.  He‘s worried about abortion. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER:  Clearly, there‘s an awful lot of doubt as to where the administration really is on this issue.  I think the will of the people is that we enact this clear-cut prohibition on these taxpayer funds for elective abortions. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  I mean, does this guy—does he follow the news at all?  Does he follow the news in his own chamber?  This is another Republican stunt.  The president signed an executive order that bars federal funding for abortion. 

Here‘s the political landscape in a nutshell.  Two years ago, President Obama took the oath of office, two years ago today.  Ever since, he has been on a legislative roll. 

The president is doing great in the polls, he‘s surging back.  And every day, re-election just looks better and better. 

So Democrats need to hold their ground on health care.  It‘s not an issue.  Harry Reid can‘t afford to pay for the same real estate twice. 

This country has broken ground on health care reforms somewhat.  OK? 

We got some good things. 

And what do the Republicans want to do?  They want to discriminate. 

They want to divert. 

They have no job plan.  Where‘s all the job talk coming from the Republicans?  They are ominously silent. 

They talk about “job killing,” but they don‘t talk about job creation.  So we‘re going down the road of repeal.  We‘re going down the road of threats.  We‘re going down the road of what we really want to do is get rid of the Democrats in the Senate and get rid of the president and, in fact, we‘re not going to do anything for two years.  That‘s basically what they‘re saying. 

Every bill that comes up in the Senate, you can guarantee that Mitch McConnell is going to try to get a vote on health care, and we‘re not going to get anything done for the next couple of years. 

Now, ask yourself the question, is that what you voted for?  And keep in mind that over on the House side, Boehner‘s crowd had to take that vote on health care because he‘s got 60 nut-job Tea Partiers there that he‘s got to satisfy.  That‘s how it‘s breaking down as I see it. 

But where‘s the job talk, Republicans? 

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

Tonight‘s question is: Do you think John Boehner and the Republicans have a real plan for job creation?  I mean, where is it? 

Press the number 1 for yes, press the number 2 for no.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show. 

Joining me now is Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders. 

Senator, great to have you with us tonight.  And thank you for braving the chilly Vermont weather tonight to join us on this very important subject.  I really appreciate it, and I know our viewers do, too. 

Let‘s get right to it. 

Here you have Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the Senate assuring the American people that there is going to be a vote on repealing health care in the Senate.  What‘s you‘re reaction to that? 

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT:  Well, I can assure the American people that health care reform is not going to be repealed.  It should not be repealed.  In fact, it should be made stronger. 

Here in Vermont, I can tell you we are looking forward to being the first state in the country to pass a Medicare for all single-payer system, but whatever happens, we are certainly not going to deny 32 million more Americans health insurance.  We‘re not going to deny 20 million more Americans access to community health centers.  We‘re not going to do away with pre-existing conditions and the right of young people to be able to be part of their family‘s insurance programs. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, obviously, the Republicans seem to be very short on jobs talk.  How long is this rhetoric about health care going to go on with the Republicans?  How long are they going to ride this pony, in your opinion? 

SANDERS:  Well, I think that this pony may be bucking a little bit.  And the polling that I have seen, Ed, is that while there is a real split in this country about whether people like the health care reform bill or not, most people understand that when you have 50 million Americans uninsured, when the cost of health care is soaring, when we are spending always twice as much per capita on health care than any other nation, it would be totally absurd to completely repeal this health care bill. 

That‘s what the polls are telling us.  Maybe our Republican friends will catch on to that.

It is absurd in my mind to be continuing to talk and talk and talk about this issue when we have a massive unemployment problem, huge national debt, and we‘ve got two wars.  There‘s a couple of other things I think we‘ve got to address now as well. 

SCHULTZ:  Is this an admission that the Republicans really don‘t have a plan to create jobs, that they seem so fixated on tearing down what the last Congress did on health care?    I mean, where‘s the job talk?  Where‘s the talk on jobs?  And why aren‘t the Democrats being aggressive demanding it? 

SANDERS:  Well, Ed, I think you‘re right.  I think at the end of the day, when you look at the real problems facing this country—and that is creating the millions of jobs that we desperately need, moving us toward a balanced budget in a fair way, not giving tax breaks to billionaires, not allowing corporations to continue to hide their money in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens—when you‘re talking about the real issues facing the American people, the Republicans have very little to say. 

SCHULTZ:  They are absent.

Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont tonight.

Appreciate your time.  Thanks so much.  We‘ll do it again. 

SANDERS:  OK, Ed.  Take care. 

SCHULTZ:  Joining me now is veteran Democratic strategist Bob Shrum. 

He‘s also a professor at New York University.

Bob, this is Eric Cantor, House majority leader, talking about what the Senate and Harry Reid should do on health care.  Here it is. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ERIC CANTOR ®, MAJORITY LEADER:  I‘ve got a problem with the assumption here that somehow, the Senate can be a place for legislation to go into a cul-de-sac or a dead end.  And Leader Reid continues to say that he is not going to bring this up for a vote in the Senate. 

The American people deserve a full hearing.  They deserve to see this legislation go to the Senate for a full vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Bob, your response to that?

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST:  Does it violate the new rules of civility if I say that‘s shamelessly hypocritical?  This is a guy who was part of a Republican Party that prevented all sorts of important legislation from coming to a vote in the Senate, used the filibuster over and over and over again, and even tried to prevent the 9/11 responders from getting the help they need by using a filibuster. 

Look, these guys don‘t have a jobs plan.  They don‘t want a recovery.  They want a recession so they can, in Michele Bachmann‘s inelegant phrase, “repeal President Obama.”  So I think we‘ll see them do this again and again. 

There are smart Republican strategists who think this is a very bad idea, that they‘re going to run the risk of doing to themselves what Republicans tried to say Barack Obama had done to himself when he was pushing health reform so hard.  That is, they‘re going to look like they‘re so angry, that they want to take this bill, they want to repeal it, and they‘re not going to pay any attention to jobs and the critical economic issues before the country. 

SCHULTZ:  And the bottom line here, don‘t the Republicans have to make a decision how long they stay on this?  Or are we headed for major gridlock again in this next session of the Congress? 

I mean, if he‘s assuring the American people that there‘s going to be a vote on health care when he‘s the minority leader, he can put it on as an amendment, but, of course, the Democrats aren‘t going to move on that.  So we have got more gridlock, do we not? 

SHRUM:  Yes.  I suppose.

Listen, I could assure my wife that I‘m going to run the New York Marathon, but it‘s not going to happen.  And he can assure the country that there‘s going to be a health care repeal vote in the Senate.  I don‘t think that‘s going to happen either. 

Republicans right now have to make what should be a sensible decision, which is move on, figure out how they‘re going to cooperate with the president.  Their numbers actually went up, Congress‘ went up, the president‘s went up in December when this occurred. 

The difficulty with that is Boehner may understand that.  McConnell even may understand that.  But they have to deal with two things. 

One, about 60 Tea Party people—you‘re absolutely right about this -

in the Republican Caucus in the House.  And two, McConnell has a whole bunch of incumbent senators who are terrified of a Tea Party challenge in their next Senate primary. 

So it‘s going to be tough for them to move on, and I think we may see this happen over and over again.  But maybe, just maybe, they‘ll try and do it for another week, hope they‘ve satisfied the base, and then move on. 

SCHULTZ:  They‘ve got to get to jobs sooner or later. 

Bob Shrum—although if you and I did run in the New York Marathon, we would at least make it down to the corner, wouldn‘t we? 

(LAUGHTER)

SHRUM:  Yes.  Ed, I don‘t think we‘d finish.  Maybe if they have a walking division we could do it. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘d know the bus routes, I guarantee you that. 

Good to have you on, Bob.

SHRUM:  Thanks.

SCHULTZ:  Bob.

I think that they have to get to jobs sooner or later. 

And this gal right here, Michele Bachmann, she‘s flying to Iowa tonight for meetings.  And, of course, with her ability to raise money and the Tea Party behind her, she could make this GOP race a real scramble.  Our panel on that tonight. 

Senator Joe Lieberman—lefties, aren‘t we just excited about the fact that he‘s leaving?  Could he leave sooner? 

Anyway, he insisted today that Saddam Hussein was developing WMD. 

Folks, “Joe-mentum” is over. 

Senator, give it a rest.  Can you leave early? 

Plus, Reverend Al Sharpton takes on Rush‘s racism, and Rick Santorum plays the race card against President Obama. 

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

I have said repeatedly that if we want to change the tone in this country, I think it has to start with the lawmakers in Washington. 

Well, today, Democratic lawmakers are in the spotlight, one in particular, because he brought up the Nazis while making an argument against health care repeal.  Here‘s Congressman Steve Cohen on the House floor Tuesday night. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. STEVE COHEN (D), TENNESSEE:  Politifact, nonpartisan, Pulitzer Prize-winning, 2009, “St. Petersburg Times,” said the biggest lie of 2010 was government takeover of health care because there is no government takeover.  It‘s insurance. 

We heard in August of 2009 that there were death panels and killing grandmother.  Everybody agrees now that was a big lie, just like government takeover of health care is a big lie. 

The nonpartisan, bipartisan Congressional Budget Office says it‘s going to cost us $230 billion the first decade and $1.2 trillion thereafter.  And they say, well, they can have their opinion. 

Those are facts.  Those are nonpartisan facts of people we hire to give us the truth.  And they don‘t like the truth, so they summarily dismiss it. 

They say it‘s a government takeover of health care.  A big lie just like Goebbels.  You say it enough, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, you repeat the lie, and eventually people believe it. 

Like “blood libel.”  That‘s the same kind of thing.  The Germans said enough about the Jews and the people believed it, and you had the Holocaust. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Congressman Cohen joins us tonight here on THE ED SHOW.

Congressman, did you go too far there? 

COHEN:  Well, apparently so, because a lot of people, I guess, hold a strict liability rule on mentioning the Holocaust or anything.  And I‘m Jewish, and I passed a Holocaust commission on my state and worked on it 20 years.  So I‘ve learned that lesson, I guess. 

But everything I said was true.  And I think people agree that it was true, that there‘s been a message, it‘s been given over and over and over, and it‘s a lie. 

And I regret that it‘s taken away from the health care issue, which I‘m so passionate about that I participated in the special order, which is what I was doing late at night.  I could have been at a party or whatever, but I did the special order because I wanted to get the people who watch C-SPAN the information that you gave them on the little clip that you showed. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, I think you were very clear in your House floor message about exactly what they have been saying about health care, the government takeover, the CBO numbers and all that kind of stuff. 

But do you feel like you, you know, brought us to a point where there should not have been a comparison?  Because the Holocaust was so horrific, as opposed to a repeal on health care. 

COHEN:  No question.  That‘s true.  And that‘s something I didn‘t see.  And I guess, to some extent, I don‘t see it still, I have to admit it, because what I was talking about was the message and the process of delivering the message, which as I see antiseptically different from—

SCHULTZ:  Are you sorry for making the connection? 

COHEN:  I definitely I am.  And I‘m sorry that any Jewish people, my Republican colleagues, or anybody got the wrong impression. 

And Gabby Giffords and I were close, she was a member of my class.  And I do think that the rhetoric should be toned down.  And I hate if I participated in anything that made my Congress, which I‘m honored to be a member of, or my district, which I love, have any problems.

SCHULTZ:  Would you say that you would not use that term again? 

COHEN:  Never. 

SCHULTZ:  Because, you know, the Tea Party has been criticized for carrying Nazi signs at rallies and such stuff as that.  And the comparison of Hitler to the president, there‘s been plenty of criticism on that.  And now a Democratic congressman goes out and you say you‘re sorry for that tonight. 

But if we‘re talking about tone in America, this can‘t be tolerated, can it? 

COHEN:  No.  Well, I‘m not going to do it again.  I‘ve learned my lesson. 

And I do—when I was among the Tea Party people when they were protesting the health care, I walked among them for about 20 minutes.  And I saw those signs with President Obama looking as Hitler, et cetera.  And it was disgusting.  And, you know, it was a mistake. 

But when you do special orders, I never prepare.  And maybe that‘s a mistake.

When I do my one-minutes, I do my—whatever—I speak from the hip.  And I guess I just went further than—I obviously went further than I should have.  And I have apologized to the American Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Defense, you name it. 

But I‘m pleased to the message.  The message I said was true, that they‘ve been lying, and they‘ve been doing it over and over and over again.  And that‘s been their game.  And I don‘t think we have had a good message on our side to respond to it. 

SCHULTZ:  And I think a lot of liberals in this country admire you for calling them liars, because the numbers are what they are.  And this is hurting a lot of people, if it were ever to go to a repeal, 32 million people, plus the CBO conversation that we‘re having in this country. 

But you‘re talking about a messaging machine that they definitely have followed to get their point across about health care, which you think is having an effect. 

COHEN:  I think it started with Karl Rove, and I think it started with weapons of mass destruction, and then it went to government takeover of health care.  And yesterday, on the floor, Mike Pence talked about government takeover of health care, and other people did.

SCHULTZ:  Yes.

COHEN:  And Michele Bachmann was talking about socialists.  And those were the buzzwords that are fall and shouldn‘t be used, but they continue using them.  And I think Mike Pence said he‘s—often, he wants to be concise, careful and consistent.  Well, that‘s somebody who I will never mention again who lived in a previous century who worked for bad people.  That‘s what he did. 

SCHULTZ:  Sure. 

Congressman Cohen, I appreciate your time tonight.

COHEN:  Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Thank you so much.

Coming up, Rick Santorum and his racist rant against the president. 

We‘ll see the ex-Senator in “The Zone” next.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, the Republican Party is serving up a lot of leftovers to run for office in 2012.  Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum is their best hope to try to win back the Senate seat he lost in 2006.  But Santorum hasn‘t lost his skill at using “Psycho Talk.”

Listen to the way he characterized President Obama‘s stance on abortion. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANTORUM ®, FMR. U.S. SENATOR:  The question is—and this is what Barack Obama didn‘t want to answer—is that human life, a person under the Constitution?  And Barack Obama says no.  Well, if that person‘s human life is not a person, then I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say no, we are going to decide who are people and who are not people. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  OK.  The Republicans are so bankrupt of ideas, that guy is their idea of a good Senate candidate? 

And Santorum isn‘t the only 2006 loser trying to push his way back into politics.  Down in Virginia, George Allen is trying to just gear up again and win back that Senate seat that he lost after using this racist comment. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. GEORGE ALLEN ®, VIRGINIA:  This fellow here—over here with the yellow shirt, Macaca, or whatever his name is, he‘s with my opponent.  He‘s following me around everywhere. 

So welcome.

Let‘s give a welcome to Macaca here. 

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Will the highlight tape ever change? 

The Republicans are so hard up for quality candidates, they‘re being forced to roll out washed up 2006ers like Allen and Santorum. 

I say bring it on.  Democrats can only benefit from all their stale “Psycho Talk.”  

Coming up, the Republicans pandered to the Tea Partiers during the midterms.  Now it may be coming back to haunt them.  That‘s next in “The Battleground” story tonight. 

Rush Limbaugh is spewing more hate on to the airwaves.  Now he‘s mocking the Chinese president. 

Reverend Sharpton is going to the FCC.  He‘ll join me tonight. 

Plus, Michele Bachmann is heading to Iowa.  What‘s that all about? 

Does she think she can be president? 

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  The “Battleground” story tonight.  The Republicans are out on a limb, are they not?  They pandered to the Tea Party base during the campaign, they built their strategy for 2012 right after the political midterm elections.  But the political world has shifted since then.  President Obama looking a heck of a lot stronger these days.  Our new NBC News, “Wall Street Journal” poll shows, he has a 53 percent job approval rating, up eight points, a big move. 

Meanwhile, the polls also show the midterm honeymoon pretty much over for the Republicans.  Just 25 percent of Americans say, the Republicans in Congress will bring the right kind of change to Washington.  Twenty percent say they won‘t bring any—they‘re going to bring the wrong change to Washington, and 51 percent say, oh, well, they‘re not going to bring any change at all. 

Joining me now, Roy Sekoff, the founding editor of “The Huffington Post.”  Gosh, it reminds me Roy of the wind sailing, the sailing.

ROY SEKOFF, FOUNDING EDITOR, “THE HUFFINGTON POST”:  Right.

SCHULTZ: .commercial they had of John Jerry.  How things shipped too fast?  Look, the bottom-line here is, there‘s one guy out there named President Barack Obama who‘s moving forward?  What do you make of it?

SEKOFF:  Well, Ed, as you know, as an old football player, you know, it‘s a lot easier. 

SCHULTZ:  Easy on old, Roy, easy on old.

SEKOFF:  Oh, I‘m sorry, I didn‘t mean that.  As a veteran football player.

SCHULTZ:  It‘s OK but all this—all right.  Go ahead.

SEKOFF:  As a classic football player, Ed, you know it‘s a lot easier to stand on the sidelines and yell at the team, boo and hiss together in the game.  And that‘s what I think the Republicans are facing right now.  You know, it‘s the old Nicholson line in, you know, a few good man, when he says to Tom Cruise, tell me you got more than this.  Tell me that this is not all you‘ve got.  And I think that‘s what happening.  We-re sitting—the American people are sitting here, 43 percent of them want the Congress to focus on jobs.  And what is the first thing they do out the gate?  Health care repeal?  I mean, they‘re stumbling, they‘re falling on their face, Ed.  And it‘s pure kabuki theatre.  I mean, I think, that‘s what we‘re looking at with Boehner and McConnell.  You know, they should maybe put on a Broadway Show because this is pure cheap theatrics. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘ll tell you what, if President Obama has a road map to

re-election, he definitely on the highest speed highway right now.  Because

right now, a lot of Americans have shifted.  Only 45 percent think he‘s a true liberal, 40 percent think he is a moderate.  That‘s a high number.  You know, and then 11 percent, I don‘t know where they are, they think he‘s a conservative.  We know that‘s not true.  The bottom line here is he really is setting up a formula and has cut enough deals to make them happy over on the conservative side to grab those independent voters to the start of this next session to Congress. 

SEKOFF:  Well, I think, you know, that‘s the point here, we‘re seeing though, what are they going to do?  What is their plan for jobs?  You know, they‘ve been banging on and banging on, Ed.  But I think the problem is as you said, they have got to feed that Tea Party base.  You know, that‘s the promise they made to them.  They‘re going to come out even though with 18 percent of the American public are worried about repealing health care.  And the bottom-line, Ed, is I think this is a great chance for the Democrats in the Senate to refrain the issue about health care and say, hey look, we‘ll stand behind this, we‘ve voted for it, and we‘ll stand behind it.  There are lots of things. 

SCHULTZ:  I just think this health care thing is like—you‘ve got to buy a piece of property twice.  And double the tax on, we‘ve had this discussion, we‘ve had this argument, I think that‘s why it‘s polling so well for President Obama and pooling so poorly for the Republicans right now, is we‘ve had this discussion, we‘ve move forward, these folks come to town, obviously the last election would have about health care, you could tell by these polls.  The bottom line is, it‘s all about jobs and the Republicans have nothing on the table.  When are we going to get the jobs plan from Boehner and the boys?

SEKOFF:  Exactly, Ed.  That‘s the biggest problem, we‘re sitting here waiting for it.  Time to put up or shut up and they‘re not putting up.  You know, and when people look at the specifics of this bill, whether it‘s, you know, being able to keep your kids on your plan until they‘re 26, no pre-existing conditions.  You know, not booting somebody off when they get sick.  They go, you know, I like this.  So, I think this is a really horrible ground for them to stand on.  And I think, you know, I think Obama made a mistake when he focus more early on rescuing “Wall Street” than he did on jobs.  I think they‘re making a similar mistake by trying to pay off their base on the health care repeal idea. 

SCHULTZ:  This is the one I really like.  Let‘s go back to the Reagan years.  Since, the Republicans, they love Reagan so much, they want to put his picture on a dime.

SEKOFF:  That‘s right.

SCHULTZ:  You know what I mean?  All right.  Unemployment back, Reagan this time in his presidency, 10.4 percent.  For President Obama, 9.4.  Job approval, 37 percent.  President Obama, 54.  Re-election?  Well, what do you think?  I think it looks pretty good right now.  And I think the next two years, Roy, in my opinion is going to be al about messaging and protecting what the Democrats did in the last session. 

SEKOFF:  You know what I think we‘re going to see, Ed?  Just as Barack Obama looked fantastic in juxtaposition with Sarah Palin over the Arizona shooting, I think as we move forward and as he addresses his issues seriously, and we see Boehner and McConnell doing these crazy little theatrical dances, again he‘s going to look more and more like the grown-up in the room trying to get something done.

SCHULTZ:  Roy, great to have with us.  And congratulations on just the explosion at “The Huffington Post,” the way you folks have just grown over there.  It‘s a great American story.  You do great work.  Great to have you with us tonight. 

SEKOFF:  I appreciate it, my friend. 

SCHULTZ:  Now, let‘s get some rapid response from our panel on these stories. 

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is going to give a big speech in Iowa tomorrow.  And Politico reports that she also plans to meet with top party officials in the state.  She‘s a fundraising machine, you can‘t deny it.  The 2012 presidential race is going to get interesting real fast. 

And, as we just discussed, the honeymoon is over for the Republicans in Congress.  Only a quarter of Americans think they‘ll bring the kind of change to Washington that Americans want. 

Joining us to night, Joe Madison, XM Satellite radio talk show host, Michael Medved, nationally syndicated radio talk show host joining us tonight as well.  Joe and Michael, great to have you with us tonight. 

JOE MADISON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Thank you.

MICHAEL MEDVED, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  Let‘s go down the road to Michele Bachmann.  Michael Medved, what‘s the plan here?  I know Minnesota is close to—I know Minnesota is close—Iowa is close to Minnesota, but I can tell you, it‘s cold there, too.  What is she doing going to Iowa?

MEDVED:  Well, look.  There are tons and tons of new Republicans who are talking about getting into the race.  Rudy Giuliani is talking about getting into the race.  Donald Trump is talking about running as a republican.  John Huntsman, the ambassador to China is talking about running as a republican.  What does that show?  It shows that even though President Obama has gotten a big bump in the poll because of his superb speech the other night and because of the compromises he made with the Republicans in the lame duck session, he still looks vulnerable.  There‘s going to be a lot of excitement in the republican field this time. 

SCHULTZ:  What about Bachmann?  You can‘t deny the fact that she‘s a money machine.  I mean, her last run in Minnesota, she raised more money than anybody else, she‘s that kind of candidate that comes out there and she just says it, she doesn‘t care how controversial it is. 

MEDVED:  Yes.

SCHULTZ:  Do a lot of voters in this country, that‘s the real appeal. 

Joe, what do you think?

MADISON:  Well, it‘s interesting what I just heard.  One is that it‘s not just a bump because of the speech he gave.  I mean, you just got through having a conversation.  People are saying, there‘s no plan on the republican side.  Now, let‘s go back to Bachmann, she is a money machine, it‘s payback time.  When you go around the country and you raise money for candidates said it won, she‘s going to now make them pay up.  And that‘s why she‘s in there.  What I find interesting is I can‘t wait for the cat fight between Sarah Palin and Bachmann.  I can‘t wait for this cat.

MEDVED:  You‘re going to have to wait for a long time.  I don‘t think either of those two ladies is going to run. 

MADISON:  Really? 

MEDVED:  Yes, I don‘t think so.

MADISON:  Then why is she in Iowa? 

MEDVED:  She‘s considering it.  And by the way, her better play is to run against Amy Klobuchar for the Senate in Minnesota, where I think Michele Bachmann would have a chance. 

(CROSSTALK)

MADISON:  Well, let‘s come back at some point in time and do Ed Schultz because I think both of them are going to run and try to stake out positions at the republican convention.  That‘s exactly what—I don‘t think they‘re going to be the nominee, but I think they‘re definitely going to run. 

SCHULTZ:  Michael, you really think both of them are going to run?

MEDVED:  No, I don‘t think either of them is going to run.  I don‘t think Mike Huckabee may run, I think the republican nominee is going to be what we would call a fresh face.  Somebody who hasn‘t been around the block that much.  Now, Michele Bachmann would qualify, but I think it‘s very, very tough for anybody whether you‘re Michele Bachmann or Mike Pence to run directly from the House for presidency of the United States. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.

MADISON:  I also think, when you‘re kind of nutty when you talk and you‘re an extremist. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ:  Hey, Joe.  We‘ve got a new tone in America. 

(CROSSTALK)

SCHULTZ:  All right.  Gentlemen, the honeymoon is over for the Republicans.  Obviously the poll numbers are showing that.  But I‘ve got to ask both of you, when do you think the Republicans are going to come to the table with a real jobs plan instead of pointing their finger at the White House all the time.  And vilifying everything this president is trying to do about jobs.  Michael, when is the job plan coming?

MEDVED:  There‘s not going to be a job plan and I‘ll tell you why not.  Because that‘s not your job when you control one house of Congress.  The Republicans got elected to try to temper and move Barack Obama to the center. 

SCHULTZ:  But that‘s about job.

MEDVED:  They already succeeded in that.

SCHULTZ:  The right kind of change?  Look at those numbers at 25 percent, they don‘t trust... 

MEDVED:  By the way, 50 percent of people, Ed, 50 percent of people in that same poll that you just showed believe there will be no change in Congress.  They‘re not afraid of the Republicans. 

MADISON:  You know what?  I hope America heard you loud and clear. 

Jobs are not the issue.  Let me tell you something, I hope everyone. 

MEDVED:  I didn‘t say the jobs aren‘t the issue.  I said there will be no job plan from the Republicans. 

MADISON:  You said, it‘s not their job.

(CROSSTALK)

But you said, it‘s not their job.

MEDVED:  It is not their job to create jobs.  That‘s not the job of government. 

MADISON:  It‘s their job.

MEDVED:  The job of the government is to get out of the way and let the private sector do what it does best. 

MADISON:  Come on, quit their double talk.  It‘s their job to create policy to help business create jobs. 

MEDVED:  I‘m sorry, the Congress responds to the president.  The president is going to give us State of the Union on Tuesday.  I hope that he talks about tax reform.  I hope he talks about meaningful progress on the deficit.  The Republicans‘ job is to get our fiscal house in order, to stop the idea of the $1.3 trillion deficit.  

SCHULTZ:  All right. 

(CROSSTALK)

No jobs plan coming.  No jobs plan at all.  That‘s going to be the first republican Congress to never have one. 

MADISON:  That‘s a sound bite. 

SCHULTZ:  Michael Medved, great to have you with us.  Joe Madison, always a pleasure. 

MADISON:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  Good discussion, guys.  Coming up, Joe Lieberman gave us one more reason to celebrate him leaving today.  Wait until you hear what he said about WMD in Iraq.  PCCC Founder Adam Green sounds off.  And Rush Limbaugh is at it again.  Reverend Al Sharpton responds to his hate, next, stay with us.  We‘ll right back.                                

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And it‘s not too late to let us know what you think, the number to dial is 1-877-ed-msnbc.  Tonight‘s telephone survey question is, do you think John Boehner and the Republicans have a real plan for job creation?  Press one for yes, press two for no.  Again, the number to dial is 1-877-ed-msnbc.  We‘ll right back.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And in my “Playbook” tonight, progressives couldn‘t be happier about turn coat Joe Lieberman saying, he wants to leave the Senate, we just don‘t know if he could leave maybe tonight, it‘s been a long thorn in the side of the Democratic Party from the war in Iraq to endorsing John McCain in the 2008 election.  And all the way through the health care debate, and he‘s still in denial about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.  Listen to the exchange with Arianna Huffington this morning. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  Saddam was threatening the stability of the entire region.  He‘s shown that by his actions.  I believe that the evidence was very clear that he was developing weapons of mass destruction. 

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN:  On what basis are you saying that?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  I‘m basing it on the so-called Duelfer report, Charles Duelfer. 

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN:  There‘s nothing in the report that. 

UNIDENTIFIED MAN:  I don‘t think you‘ve read it, sweetheart.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN:  Good luck for the next future.   

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  I don‘t think you read it sweetheart, gentlemen Senator from Connecticut Joe Lieberman just made it crystal clear why progressives can‘t wait for him to leave.  Not only is he off his rocker, he is rude.  And he may be the last person in America who thinks Saddam Hussein had WMDs.  George W. Bush even admitted that they were wrong about it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The main reason we went into Iraq, is the time we thought he had weapons of mass destruction.  Turns out he didn‘t. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Turns out he didn‘t.  Even though Lieberman refuses to see the light on WMDs, his good buddy John McCain thinks he would be a great secretary of defense.  I don‘t. 

For more, let‘s bring in Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.  Adam, good to have you with us tonight. 

I‘m a liberal, I‘m celebrating.  I would like for him to leave tonight if it‘s possible.  Lieberman, your take on him leaving in his damaging affect that he‘s had to the progressive movement?

ADAM GREEN, CO-FOUNDER, PCCC:  First of all, it‘s important to point out that Joe Lieberman has consistently lived in a state of denial, state of delusion.  You might recall that in 2004, he actually ran for president and in the New Hampshire primary, he came in fifth out of five major candidates, yet he went on stage that night and declared himself having come in tied for third place.  Anytime, you know, he loses, he declares victory.  And he did the same thing tonight with Iraq.  And you‘re right.  He‘s really hurt, the Democratic Party by consistently undermining popular progressive proposals like the public option.  Like strong Wall Street reform, and it‘s a good thing he‘s coming. 

SCHULTZ:  How would you and how do you think the left would take it if President Obama put him on a cabinet?

GREEN:  Ed, that would be a pretty bad thing.  President Obama would probably hear a lot of blowback on that.  I think Arianna Huffington today just said to Joe Lieberman‘s face, I really hope that you are not appointed secretary of defense because we can‘t have someone in that position who still thinks that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. 

SCHULTZ:  Is he too much of a hawk?

GREEN:  Is he too much of a hawk?  Well, absolutely yes.  And it was a pretty pivotal moment in 2006 when progressives primaried him and through the Iraq message, actually there‘s something very important by beating him and showing that voters supported democratic politicians being strong on the Iraq issue, that actually had ripple effects, and got the entire Democratic Party to start talking about Iraq which helped us take back Congress.  And that‘s been actually our strategy the last couple of years, trying to push Democrats to be bolder on things like the public option and things like Wall Street reform. 

SCHULTZ:  And who would the PCC support in Connecticut for this Senate seat?

GREEN:  That‘s a good question.  We actually recently had a senior staffer on the ground, Kianna Gregory (ph) from your team working to organize progressives to beat Joe Lieberman if he ran.  Now that he‘s out, a couple of the candidates, one guy is Chris Murphy who we‘re taking a look at.  But we‘re still kind of doing our due diligence at this point, we want to support the most progressive candidate in that race. 

SCHULTZ:  Adam Green, we‘re celebrating tonight.  Joe Lieberman‘s finally going to be gone out of the Senate.  Good to have you with us tonight.

GREEN:  All right.  Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Couple of final pages in the “Playbook” tonight.  Exactly, 50 years ago today, President John F. Kennedy was sworn into office.  His inaugural address remains an iconic speech that will always live on in American history. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor, we‘ll light our country and all who serve it.  And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Events in Washington will honor President Kennedy all week.  Tonight at the Kennedy Center, it‘s hosting Morgan Freeman who will read excerpts from the late president‘s speeches.  President Obama is gearing up for his reelection bid.  The president is moving some senior White House staffers to Chicago and opening up his campaign headquarters there.  White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says, the president will formally declare his candidacy with the Federal Election Commission soon.  The formal launch of his campaign is expected this spring.  Coming up, Rush Limbaugh, well, he‘s at it again.  More on his racist rants.  He‘s mocked China‘s President Hu, and it was flat out despicable and offensive.  Reverend Al Sharpton, going to the FCC, will talk about this.  That‘s next on THE ED SHOW. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCHULTZ:  And finally tonight, Rush Limbaugh‘s racism has firing up again.  This time, he went after Chinese president with this despicable imitation. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  (IMITATING CHINESE)

Nobody was translating.  But that‘s as close as I can get to it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ:  Well, Limbaugh just keeps saying whatever he wants with no consequences.  But if a liberal says something similar, look out, folks.  Do you remember back in 2006, Rosie O‘Donnell took a lot of heat for imitating a Chinese newscaster on “The View.”  And of course, news busters went to town on that story.  There were calls for her to be fired and she was eventually forced to apologize. 

So far, Limbaugh hasn‘t acknowledged that what he said was wrong or what he did was offensive.  And of course, nobody here on my show is holding their breath, especially me.  But my next guest is taking action to put an end to the hate speech and stuff like that in America.  Reverend Al Sharpton is president of the National Action Network, and he is working to get the FCC to clamp down on racism on the public airways.  Reverend, good to have you with us tonight. 

REV. AL SHARPTON, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK:  Good to be with you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Do you consider what you just saw, Rush Limbaugh do, is that racism?

SHARPTON:  Unquestionably.  He‘s mocking someone based on their language, based on their culture, which therefore is not against an individual, it‘s against a whole race of people.  This is an anti-Chinese slur.  And aside from the fact that, it is bias against people of Chinese language and Chinese dissent, it is at a time when this country is trying to for the economic benefit of the country have a good relationship with the Chinese.  So, here we are, a week and a half, Ed, after the president tries to pull the country together in the wake of Arizona, and here we have Rick Santorum, we have Rush at it again, they have the right to do it, but I don‘t think that Rush has the right to do it on the airwaves.  FCC must have public hearings and deal with the line and with the standards in terms with the use of the presentment.

SCHULTZ:  And how close are you, do you think to these public hearings?  Would they happen this year in 2011?

SHARPTON:  I think they will.  I think that we need the communities around this country, of all racism, religions, to write and continue to e-mail the FCC as many have based on you and I talking about on this how, saying we want public hearings.  Why not a have public discussion?  Even the right that says, we think we have the right to do it, what are you afraid of having a public hearing, public discussion so these people from Limbaugh all the way can come in front of the commission and explain our positions and let the public see what government is saying is proper and improper to use federally regulated airwaves for. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Reverend, you say that what Limbaugh did was racist.  What do you say to those people who think it‘s funny, I mean, there‘s a group of people out there that think, oh gosh, that was a funny imitation of the Chinese president.  What about that?

SHARPTON:  Well, if you want to use humor to desecrate people based on who they are, the question is do you have the right to do that using federally regulated airwaves?  You can use humor and be funny with obscenities, but FCC can‘t say, you can‘t do that.  You can use humor and talk about doing something criminal.  You can‘t do that.  I think you should not be able to use humor in a racist or gender biased way. 

SCHULTZ:  Reverend Al Sharpton, always a pleasure to have with us on this subject.  Because you are going after this in a totally different way than anyone has ever approached what is said on the public airwaves in America.  Do you get any inclination at all that this is going to be received as a very serious issue with the FCC?

SHARPTON:  I think that my producer is that we will get to the public hearings as long as people help us to continue to push it.  And we show real determination. 

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

SHARPTON:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  Thank you so much. 

SHARPTON:  All right, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Tonight in our telephone survey, I asked, do you think John Boehner and the Republicans have a real plan for job creation?  Two percent of you said yes, ninety eight percent of you say no.  Boehner, you‘ve got some work to do, buddy. 

This program note, Dan Lauria from the Broadway sports drama “Lombardi” will be with here tomorrow night to talk about the play which my wife and I went to, and we thought was just absolutely outstanding.  Of course, this weekend is a big weekend for NFL play-off.  The AFC and the NFC championship game, and the Packers and the Bears state play in Chicago. 

Dan Lauria, a fabulous actor.  And I tell you what, he has got “Lombardi” down in this play.  It‘s fabulous.  If you‘re in New York, you‘ve got to check it out.  Join us tomorrow night.  He‘ll be on this program. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  I want to hear from you.  There are lots of ways to get in touch with me through the shows.  You can go to my Web site, Ed.msnbc.com or check out our radio Web site at wegot.ed.com.  Tell me what you think on Facebook at facebook.com/edschultzshow and talk to me on twitter at twitter.com/wegoted.  “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews starts right now on the place for politics, MSNBC.  We‘ll see you back here tomorrow night.

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