Msnbc Live at 6 p.m. ET, Wednesday June 15, 2011
Read the transcript from the Wednesday 6 p.m. hour
Guests: Richard Wolffe, David Corn, Adam Green, Matt Lewis, Bob Franken,
Michelle Bernard, Mark Potok
CENK UYGUR, HOST: As the GOP searches for Mr. Right, what they are really looking for is Mr. Crazy Right Wing.
Tonight, watch out, Mitt Romney. Huge parts of your party are rooting for you to fail because you made the mistake of saying something that actually makes sense.
Harry, Huntsman and Rudy are ready to throw the first punch.
Speaking of failure, new numbers on how much America rejects Paul Ryan and his Medicare cuts. They are devastating. But are Democrats ready to keep up the pressure or are they going to blow it?
And the connection between conservative talk radio and right wing political groups. Are Rush, Hannity and Beck getting paid million to sell right-wing nonsense to their followers?
All that tonight.
Good evening. I‘m Cenk Uygur.
We start tonight with our lead story. There‘s some bad news for the Republican front-runner, Mitt Romney. Really, really bad news.
What is it? Here‘s the news flash. Al Gore said Mitt Romney is being reasonable.
Oh, no! That is a devastating turn of events for the former governor. There is nothing more lethal to your chance in a GOP primary than actually being reasonable.
Today, Gore praised Romney for actually flirting with sanity in his views on global warming. Gore said, “Good for Mitt Romney. While other Republicans are running from the truth, he is sticking to his guns in the face of the anti-science wing of the Republican Party.”
Now, of course what Romney believes is simply that global warming exists, though he‘s not sure it‘s caused by humans. This is hardly a progressive view. It was George Bush‘s view as well, remember.
And look, can you believe how much further to the right the Republicans have gone in a short period of time that, now, George Bush‘s positions are way too liberal for that? It‘s insanity.
And by the way, don‘t get Mitt wrong. He isn‘t going to do a damn thing about global warming. He just says, all right, I think it‘s real. And that‘s already costing him.
But for so many on the right, Romney‘s rare moment of sanity was exactly why they don‘t want him to be their nominee. It‘s why they are looking to boost the crazy quotient with people like Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Last night in New York, Perry gave a rowdy address too a bunch of rich Republicans that looked and sounded like a stump speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY ®, TEXAS: The federal government was created by the states to be an agent for the states, not the other way around. Are you ready to take this country back?
Then stand with us over the course of the next 16 months. Elect those governors across the states. Make a difference in America and we will take America back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: He was literally jumping for joy in that speech. He‘s coming.
While Perry was applauded by these New York Republicans, he is not nearly as popular in his own state, where he‘s helped create a $27 billion deficit.
Well, of course Perry has an explanation for that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: A prophet is generally not loved in their hometown. That‘s both biblical and practical.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Who calls themselves a prophet? Jesus. Well, Jesus, I suppose. But Perry is no Jesus. That‘s for sure.
Look, the kind of guy who calls himself a prophet is the kind of guy who organizes a religious revival at a Houston football stadium over the summer, which is what Perry is doing. And he‘s saying that we can use prayer to address the nation‘s economic problems. That‘s a brilliant plan.
Perry‘s partner in this day of prayer is a group called the American Family Association. It‘s a hate group that opposes what it calls the homosexual agenda. And it claims gays want to recruit children, and boycotts companies supporting gay rights.
Hey, now we‘re talking. That‘s more like it. That‘s plenty crazy enough.
Well, of course, the reality is that a candidate who associates with people like this may actually win the hearts and minds of social conservatives. But he will also accelerate the GOP slide over that political cliff.
All right. Now let‘s talk about it.
Joining me is MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe and David Corn, Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones.”
All right, Richard. Let‘s start with you.
Mitt Romney actually saying global warming exists. I hear he also said that two plus two equals four. Which got him in bigger trouble?
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, Mitt Romney is supposed to be unleashed a natural in this version of the Mitt Romney phenomenon that we didn‘t see last time around. And you‘ve got to say, it‘s refreshing, just as it was refreshing to see Newt Gingrich see the Ryan plan radical right wing social engineering.
The problem here is that—it‘s a personal problem for me, but I think it probably is for the voters, too—this is a flashback to 2004. You have a moderate figure from Massachusetts, a John Kerry-like figure. And have you this open slot in this ticket for a Howard Dean-style figure who, in this case—Rick Perry is saying you‘re going to take your country back. All he needs to say is, you‘ve got the power, and he will be Howard Dean again.
And I just think that the Republican Party is yearning not to vote for the Kerry figure here, which Mitt Romney is trying to be. It‘s actually going to go for the Howard Dean, and it could be Perry, it could be Sarah Palin. It could even be Michele Bachmann.
But it‘s not because of the craziness, it‘s the idea of empowering people who feel that they do not have a voice and they need an insurgent populist to be their flag waver. If they were looking for a Goldwater moment, it‘s not going to come from Romney, it‘s going to come from Rick Perry.
UYGUR: Right. Richard, I know you didn‘t mean it that way, but that might be the heaviest insult Howard Dean has ever gotten, being compared to Rick Perry.
WOLFFE: I think he‘s probably had a few more.
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, “MOTHER JONES”: But, you know, one of the lessons of 2004 was that John Kerry won. That, ultimately, Democratic voters, primary voters, were convinced that electability trumped passion. And it was a hard-fought fight. It doesn‘t mean it‘s going to happen that way on the Republican side.
But Howard Dean got in early. He organized ahead of the Obama campaign in terms of social media. He did the heavy lifting.
Right now, we don‘t see anyone other than Michele Bachmann who is willing to sort of take that insurgent route. Rick Perry was jumping for joy last night, but he hasn‘t signaled that he is really serious about getting in. Huntsman is getting in, but that doesn‘t address the question or the concerns that Richard just raised.
CORN: And Chris Christie has said no way, I‘m just not doing—forget about me. So there‘s not a lot of alternatives out there right now.
David and Richard, look, here is the thing I want to understand. Right? Look, I get that when you actually ask the Republican voters, do you want somebody who is electable? They say yes.
In fact, there was a recent poll. About three-quarters of them saying they would rather have someone who is electable than someone who is a perfectly pure as a conservative candidate.
On the other hand, when a candidate catches so much heat for saying something that is demonstrably true, I mean, it seems to me that the Republican voters have lost their minds.
WOLFFE: No, no, no.
UYGUR: Like, they‘ve gotten so brainwashed by the Rush Limbaughs and the Glenn Becks, that if you say something that is true, they are like, how dare you? How dare you? And it actually causes Romney real problems.
WOLFFE: Look, I know it‘s satisfying to say they‘ve lost their minds here, but you could have made the same arguments about Democratic voters in early 2008, because on electability, there was no way you would go for Barack Obama in Iowa or any of the other early states. In fact, that was the argument the Clinton campaign made.
He was less electable. He was going to lose by 20, 30 points across the board against the head-to-heads in different states, not just with Clinton, but with any number of Republicans.
UYGUR: You know, Richard, I‘ve got to disagree with that analogy. No way.
WOLFFE: Republicans now are in a similar mood in the sense that they want to take over. They want to have an internal coup within their party and go for someone they have a passionate connection with more than these bromides that stand for the establishment.
UYGUR: No, but, listen, Richard, the reason some people thought that Obama was not electable was because he was young and he was black. Right? It‘s not because he was crazy.
I mean, he ran on a change campaign when the country was desperate for change. That made all the sense in the world. These other guys, they don‘t even believe in reality. That‘s a whole different ballgame.
WOLFFE: I‘m not arguing that they are equivalent. I‘m saying their electability in a change election, with a volatile electorate, electability is not a winning argument. That‘s why people are not falling for Mitt Romney right now. They‘re not interested in electability. They want someone who will speak for them.
CORN: Well, right now, they are looking for the affair, not the marriage. And after several more months of campaigning, depending who gets into the race—I mean, if the field stays as it is, the one passion candidate you have there is Michele Bachmann, who is probably easier for Mitt Romney to hold back than, say, Rick Perry or maybe even Sarah Palin, if she does decide to get in.
So it really still depends on who makes that jump into this. It‘s very easy for Rick Perry to be waving the Lone Star flag, but he is not in the race yet.
So, Mitt Romney, I still think, has a good chance of being the guy who, at the end, just barely squeaks by. McCain did not arouse the passions of the Republican Party, Mike Huckabee did last time out. And McCain, because Huckabee couldn‘t get enough people, and there were other people in the race like Romney, he kind of just thread the needle. Romney still can do that.
UYGUR: No, absolutely. No question.
And look, Romney still has the lead, has a sizeable lead. But obviously people are looking for the anti-Romney. And them looking—
CORN: And it‘s not Pawlenty. You know, so far—he had a chance the other night.
UYGUR: Oh, no, no. I don‘t even want to discuss Pawlenty. He‘s a loser. He has no chance. OK?
So let‘s discuss someone relevant like Huntsman.
Look, the right search for the anti-Romney is having a clear effect on the allegedly moderate and allegedly grownup other former governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman. He has been creeping for months, running way from his past support for cap and trade and praising the Paul Ryan budget, which is a terrible idea politically.
Today, Huntsman released a tease video for his official entry in the race next week showing him riding a dirt bike through the desert with a country music soundtrack. Come on. How goofy is that?
But anyway, in private, the Huntsman campaign has a very different view of the dynamics of this race. Get a load of this.
His chief strategist, John Weaver told “Esquire” this is the weakest GOP field since 1940. Weaver says, “There is simple reason that our party is nowhere near being a national governing party. No one wants to be around a bunch of cranks.”
So, Richard, when we‘ve got somebody like Huntsman, with a campaign manager who thinks the party is full of cranks, who is theoretically more moderate, and then you‘ve got a guy like Perry, who‘s like, oh, I‘m going to out-crazy everybody, I‘m a prophet, right?
UYGUR: Which is more appealing to the Republicans?
WOLFFE: The passion. The passion and the vision. I mean, look, if Huntsman is going out there—by the way, that Huntsman video reminded me of Mitt Romney‘s jogging video. OK? Or even, frankly, John Kerry going kite surfing or --
CORN: Wind surfing.
You know, those pictures, when the candidate thinks they look cool, really rarely translate. So I love the Evel Knievel outfit.
But what they want is someone to take the fight to President Obama. And that means, first of all, showing that you‘ve got the fight in your belly, that you‘re going to take it to the other candidates. That‘s exactly why Pawlenty failed in the debate, because he couldn‘t actually bring his fighting gloves to the debate the last time around.
So, you know, is Huntsman going to be the guy to do that? Is he really going to take the sledgehammer to a president that he worked for? That‘s not been in his track record. Is he going to be convincing if he tries to do it now? I think they are looking for a fighter, and Huntsman and Romney—
CORN: Huntsman is the guy to vote for if you think Mitt Romney is too conservative. I mean, I don‘t see the rationale here.
He believes in, God bless him, in civil unions for gay couples and cap and trade. He worked for Barack Obama. He didn‘t demonize Barack Obama.
He would be a great general election candidate if he doesn‘t fall off the motorcycle. But right now, I don‘t see any part of the Republican base, even the donor community, that is going to look to him and say, yes, he can win and we should get behind him, and he can rouse our troops.
UYGUR: Last thing, guys, because Politico is reporting that a lot of the Bush guys are getting behind Huntsman. So obviously they think he would make a good candidate I think in the general election.
CORN: They need something to do.
UYGUR: Right. But the thing is, isn‘t the fundamental problem of the Republicans that they want a candidate who can win in a general election, but they want a candidate who is insane enough to win in the GOP primary? And that such a thing might not exist?
CORN: Well, you could maybe build one in a lab. I mean, this happens in every primary. You move to the right or to the left to get the passions of the base and the activists. And you have to sort of step back to capture the Independents. That‘s what Dick Nixon told everyone 40 years ago.
Now, the question is always, how far to the side do you have to step? And it seems the way our politics are going these days, you really have to get pretty deep into the crazy pool. And the question is whether you can climb out of that and look like a sane person.
And that‘s the point that your raised tonight. Huntsman certainly doesn‘t have the ability to do that. Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, who knows?
UYGUR: All right. Well, we‘ll see how it turns out. We‘re out of time for right now.
MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe and David Corn, Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones.”
Thank you both so much.
WOLFFE: Thanks, Cenk.
CORN: Thanks, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right. I‘ll see you guys soon.
Now, when we come back, Newt Gingrich‘s wacky new way to run for president. It‘s less candidate and more con job.
Right wing talk radio bought and paid for by gobs and gobs of far-right money. Tonight, we‘re exposing this extreme sham.
And nothing says summer like free markets and limited government.
And summer camp. Yes, there‘s now a Tea Party summer camp. Oh, come on. Now the Tea Party has a (INAUDIBLE) summer, too? We‘ll explain.
Stick with us.
UYGUR: “It‘s the economy, stupid.” Remember, that was the phrase that helped Bill Clinton turn George H. W. Bush into a one-term president.
Now, two decades later, it‘s threatening to turn a Democrat into a one-termer. The latest polling shows that 47 percent of Americans think the economy is poor and 70 percent think it‘s getting worse. That is a very bad number.
Americans and the politicians who would like to keep their jobs desperately need a solution. So, Senator Chuck Schumer sat down with other Democrats last week to discuss doable job creation ideas, proposals they could pass with a GOP-controlled House.
The result, according to columnist E.J. Dionne, “The senators concluded that the only stimulative measures with any chance of getting Republican votes involve tax cuts.”
Are you kidding me? The only thing Democrats could come up with was tax cuts?
Tax cuts are not a Democratic solution. They‘re not even a solution at all.
Remember, President Clinton improved the economy and added 23 million jobs in the ‘90s when he raised taxes on the rich. But the Republican leadership knows they‘ve already won that conversation.
Mitch McConnell told “The National Journal,” “I can say pretty confidently, as the Speaker has, that we are not going to raise taxes in this agreement.”
Mitch even has a little advice for the president. “What the president
ought to say to his own political left is, ‘Those crazy Republicans won‘t
let me raise taxes, but we need to do this for the country.‘”
That is so sad. You know why? Because it‘s true.
Watch. That is exactly what the Democrats and the president are going to say.
In my opinion, they are doing Mitch McConnell‘s bidding for him. Why are tax cuts the only option?
Hey here‘s an idea—create jobs for real Americans instead of giving more tax cuts to the rich.
But will Democrats really push for that?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL), DNC CHAIR: We own the economy. We own the beginning of the turnaround. And we want to make sure that we continue that pace of recovery.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: I wouldn‘t have said we own the economy. Look, I would fight for job creation. That‘s the real way to go.
To play on only Republican ground is a bad idea. It‘s going to lead to a bad economy and it‘s going to lead to bad electoral results, if you ask me.
But you know what? Shockingly enough, they haven‘t asked me yet.
All right. Let‘s talk about it with someone else.
Adam Green is joining me. He‘s the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. He‘s live in Minneapolis, the site of the Netroots Nation convention this week, where, actually, I‘ll be speaking on Saturday night.
Adam, Democrats get together and they think their only option is tax cuts. I suspect you have a different idea.
ADAM GREEN, CO-FOUNDER, PCCC: Yes.
Well, first of all, welcome. Greetings from sunny Minneapolis, home of Paul Wellstone and, as you said, the Netroots Nation conference.
Look, ,Democrats have a consist pattern of essentially capitulating before the fight even begins. And it‘s a real problem. Here is kind of the mental process they go through.
It‘s like, well, do Republicans say they will vote for these progressive popular ideas? Oh, no, they won‘t. So let‘s just adopt Republican ideas. But that‘s an absurd way of legislating.
The best way for progressives to legislate is really a three-step process. One, say what is the right thing to do? In this case, as you said, it‘s massive government investment in jobs.
Step two, is this a popular idea? In this case, overwhelmingly.
Republican, Independent and Democratic voters want investment in jobs.
And three I would call the Cenk Uygur step, which is, Democrats have to make the case, they have to rally the public. And if people like Mitch McConnell are against their own constituents, well, when they go back home, they need to face exactly what Paul Ryan and other Republicans faced a couple of months ago, which is angry people at town hall meetings.
That only happens if Democrats actually make the case first, and that‘s what we need them to do on jobs.
UYGUR: I feel like I stirred so many questions this week. What is wrong with them? How can they possibly have been in politics for decades and not understand that, hey, maybe you should make your own case, that maybe you should tell voters, here‘s what I‘m going to do—I‘m going to create jobs. I‘m going to create three or four million jobs.
But look at these Republicans. They‘re standing in our way.
And then you put pressure on the Republicans. And guess what? The Republicans might change instead of you caving in all the time.
Like, seriously, Adam, you work a lot in Washington. I‘m sure you tell the congressmen and the senators that. When you tell them that, what do they say? I mean, do they say, I don‘t know anything about politics? What the hell do they say?
GREEN: Look, honestly, there is kind of a culture clash between those who only play the inside game in Washington, D.C., and those who understand how to mobilize people outside of Washington.
So, look, here is the way I see negotiation. If 75 percent of the people are on my side, and 25 percent of the people are on the side of somebody across the table from me, and they‘re drawing a line in the sand in a way that puts them on the opposite side of their own constituents, I‘m not going to take that line in the sand. I‘m going to rally their constituents against them.
And politicians, most of whom are younger or a little bit more tech savvy, understand how to use the Internet to rally people quickly. But unfortunately, there‘s a culture in D.C. of making behind-the-scenes deals.
Now, the one fortunate thing—
UYGUR: I have a theory, Adam.
GREEN: OK. What‘s your theory?
UYGUR: My theory is, it‘s not that they‘re not tech savvy. It‘s not that they can‘t read a poll. They‘re politicians. They can read a poll. They know what 75 percent is.
No, it‘s that they take money from the same financial interests. So, they pretend like, oh, the Republicans made me do it! Mitch McConnell is rubbing their face in it saying, yes, you know that‘s the game you‘re playing. You‘re taking money from the same guys as we are.
Look, let me give you a sense of what the Republicans are up to.
They‘re going to take almost a billion dollars away from WIC, from CSFP, TEFAP. These are all programs that help the poor, the middle class, they help women and children. They are looking to kill Medicare and Medicaid if they can.
They want to spend $17 billion more on defense. They want to continue tax breaks for big oil. They want to demand $2.4 trillion in cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.
All of these are enormously unpopular. Nobody wants these. These all polled terribly. And instead of fighting back, what do the Democrats do? They go, oh, OK, when you say jump, I say how high?
A party can‘t be that bad. They just can‘t be that bad.
GREEN: Look, I‘m not going to dispute your basic premise, which is that corporate money is absolutely corrupting politics. I really think it‘s a few things.
I think it‘s that. I think it‘s the failure to understand how to mobilize the public. And that comes along with the idea that some of these politicians would actually make more money for their campaigns if they rallied the public, as opposed to trying to get $500, $1,000, $2,000 contributions from Wall Street hacks.
But a third thing is honestly just the fear factor with Democrats. Many Democrats kind of imagine the worst-case scenario of, what will these big corporate ads that run against me look like?
And then they think to themselves, oh, there is no way I can possibly fight back, even when the polling clearly shows the public is on my side. And what we‘re trying to do is say to those people, the good people who feel trapped in a bad system, as opposed to the genuinely corrupt people, we‘re trying to say, we will get your back if you are willing to fight for massive government investment in jobs.
Let‘s wire America with the Internet. Let‘s rebuild crumbling schools. Let‘s put people to work.
UYGUR: And God bless. Let‘s do that.
GREEN: The one good piece of news today was in “The Huffington Post,” in response to our activism, Senator Chuck Schumer‘s office said that he is willing to fight for investment and infrastructure. We look forward to working with him if he is willing to do that.
UYGUR: I hope so. I really, really hope so.
All right. Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.
Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.
GREEN: Thanks, Cenk.
UYGUR: All right. Now, when we come back, Newt Gingrich‘s new way to run for president. Hint: it‘s all about the money, and it‘s our “Con Job of the Day.” That‘s next.
UYGUR: We might laugh at Newt Gingrich‘s presidential campaign, but Newt‘s laughing all the way to the bank. And his trick to rip off his own funders is our “Con Job of the Day.”
Since hitting the 2012 trail, it‘s become obvious that Newt has not untangled his for-profit work from his tax-exempt charity. ABC News reports a charity Gingrich founded paid $220,000 to one of his for-profit companies. It also bought a case of his books and DVDs from another subsidiary. And it developed mailing lists of supporters that Newt can use for other purposes. This charity is meant to promote religion in the public arena, but sounds like it‘s promoting Newt and his pocketbook instead.
Self-promotion was also a sticking point with Newt campaign aides when they jumped ship last week. They were frustrated by how much time Newt spent hocking his book and DVDs.
Just watch how Newt answered a question about those staffers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH ®, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We had a fundamental difference about strategy. The good example is the fact I have a new book out which I‘m very proud of.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: This guy is shameless. Does he have any interest in the presidency, or is all this just a huge marketing campaign for his books and for himself?
And by the way, everything old is Newt again. Back when Newt was Speaker, the House fined him for using tax-exempt donations to promote his political agenda. But Newt‘s not alone in running this scam.
In 2009, Sarah Palin‘s political action committee used $63,000 from donors to buy up copies of her own book. Then she re-gifted them as presents to other donors.
Wow. How generous. And who got paid? Sarah Palin.
The worst part of this is that they are ripping off the people who believe in them the most. Now, look, I know that some of their donors are rich folks who don‘t mind Newt and Palin skimming off the top as long as they play ball. But some are small donors who made painful sacrifices to donate to a cause that they believed in. And Gingrich and Palin treat them like suckers who are there to pad their pockets. Now, this literal con job of their own supporters is our con job of the day.
UYGUR: Welcome to the show, everybody. Now to discuss some of today‘s biggest political stories, we bring in our Power Panel.
All right. With me now is MSNBC political analyst Michelle Bernard. Also joining the conversation, syndicated columnist Bob Franken. And Matt Lewis is our senior contributor from “The Daily Caller.” Good to have all of you here.
First up, is the GOP House about to cave in? Republicans and their right wing agenda are seeing a free-fall in our brand new NBC poll. I like that picture of Ryan. Sixty percent say that the Republicans in the House has brought little change, that‘s bad. Twenty three percent say, it‘s brought the wrong kind of change. And get this, only 13 percent say, it ushered in the right kind of change. That seems like a disastrous number. And the corner stone of the GOP agenda is getting crashed as well. The Ryan plan is more unpopular than ever before. It‘s negative rating has shot up nearly 10 points in the past two months. Matt, you‘re our conservative. Those numbers look terrible, don‘t they?
MATT LEWIS, “THE DAILY CALLER”: Yes. Well, look, it is tough to sell Paul Ryan‘s Medicare plan. Even though I think it‘s happen to be a good plan. It‘s easy—politically, it‘s easy to say, you‘re going to kill Medicare, and it‘s hard to explain well but the truth is it‘s going to—if we don‘t fix it—it becomes very nuance. But look, I would actually disagree with the premise which is that anybody is going to be thinking about a congressman from Wisconsin when the 2012 elections come around. I mean, just today the DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said, we own the economy. The truth is, in 2012, Barack Obama is going to be at the top of the ticket. And at the top of everybody‘s mind is going to be the question, are you better off today than you were four years ago. I think it‘s going to be about the economy and about the unemployment rate, not about Paul Ryan.
BOB FRANKEN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, you know, that overlooks the reelection of Bill Clinton that most people attribute to the fact that Newt Gingrich had been the speaker of the house. This Congress with approval ratings on another poll for the second month in a row are nine percent are the kind of thing that just might re-elect Barack Obama even though his presidency in the minds of many has started to slip a little bit. We‘ve gone from the good old days of do nothing Congress to a Congress that many people would say, do nothing, please.
UYGUR: Now, Michelle, look, when you look at those numbers, 13 percent say they are going in the right direction, that‘s a terrible, terrible number. Do you every look at that and go, hey, maybe we are headed into the right direction? Or do they think, fantastic, let‘s go get them.
MICHELLE BERNARD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, quite frankly, when I look at those numbers, I would imagine that the Republicans and truth be told, Cenk. Democrats as well are looking at their numbers and they are saying, I hope they are saying, what are we doing wrong? I think if you would go out and talk to people who are truly independents, people who are just right the center, and left the center, the numbers for Democrats are probably not that much higher either. The bottom line is, the country is on, you know, in free-fall. When we talk about the economy, people are, I think, absolutely dreadfully tired of both Republicans and Democrats. I think that‘s why we see so many people.
UYGUR: Yes, no, I think.
BERNARD: Let me finish. Numbers will show you that we have more and more people self identifying as independents. And the reason they are doing is because they are disgusted with both parties. These are clearly not good numbers for Republicans but nobody is helping us.
UYGUR: Look, look, look. If you watch this show at all, you know how angry I get the Democrats. You just see two segments ago how angry I get at them, right? And so, I‘m certainly not their fan, right? Having said that, it is false to say, hey, let‘s just equate the two. OK, I‘ve got terrible poll numbers on Republicans, and so there must be terrible poll numbers on Democrats. There isn‘t. We‘re going to talk about President Obama next whose poll numbers are actually pretty good. Look, Bob, I think there is two different problems here. One is the Republicans have bad plans. When you ask the American people, they hate those plans. The other problems that the Democrats have is, they would actually fight for their plans. They would actually fight for things that are incredibly popular.
FRANKEN: Well, quite frankly, the criticism of the Democrats could be that they don‘t really have any plans. It is sort of like that old saying, if your opponent is shooting himself in the foot, or wherever, stand back and let them do it. And I think that there‘s a belief in the White House that the Republicans are going to implode. The problem is, is that they didn‘t implode in the last election and I think that that‘s a dangerous, dangerous strategy.
UYGUR: All right. But Matt, look, I want to play your clip from the debate of all the different candidates supporting the Ryan plan which is also polling even worse as we go along. Then I‘m going to ask you about it. Let‘s watch it first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We‘ve got to restructure those programs and the Paul Ryan approach I totally support.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Why can‘t we opt out of whole system?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It is not financially solvent. We have to fix it.
We have to reform it.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We have to deal with this problem now. And what Paul Ryan has suggested, which I wholeheartedly support, is to use a program that is identical to what seniors already have. It is called Medicare part D.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: So come on, Matt, getting on board for a sinking plan like this, how is that going to help the Republicans run in their presidential race?
LEWIS: Well, look, I think it‘s a matter of political courage. There is no easy way to cut $6 trillion out of the national debt. But Paul Ryan‘s plan if we do that, if we don‘t do that, Medicare is going to end as we know it. But look, let me make a point that I think is interesting. No one else is really bringing this up. But Barack Obama needs to be really careful. I wrote about this at “The Daily Caller” yesterday, if you chart when George W. Bush‘s popularity imploded, it wasn‘t Katrina, it wasn‘t Abu Ghraib. It‘s exactly correlates to when the democratic primaries began in April of 2003. When they had all of these debates. And you had Howard Dean and everybody bashing Bush. This could happen to Barack Obama.
LEWIS: And so, I think that these debates should not be overlooked by Obama. This actually could have real consequences to him.
UYGUR: Right. Well, that‘s an interesting theory. It actually going to relate to our next topic, which is how is this guy still this popular? Referring of course to President Obama. Unemployment is at 9.1 percent but President Obama is still polling really strong. He‘s got 49 percent approval rating. Forty six percent disapproval of the job that he is doing as president. Now, that‘s better than Reagan and Clinton where at this stage in their presidency. So, is it going to be something right? Or is it going to last? So, those are the questions I‘ve got. Look, Michelle, you look at that, we talk about it a little earlier, those are good poll numbers even with stunningly high unemployment. Obviously, the country likes him to some degree, to a large degree.
BERNARD: You will not get any argument from me there. I think that this shows that people fundamentally like Barack Obama. They like his presidency. They like him as a person but still, I think that it would be very unwise to say, that Barack Obama is a shoo-in for 2012. Here are two things that the Obama administration and Democrats really need to look at. Whether people like the Paul Ryan plan or not, Paul Ryan came out with a plan.
He has put something out there that has given rise to some discussion about what we do about the economy. The unemployment rate in this country is nine percent. The unemployment rate, Cenk, in clarities (ph) of color particularly for African-Americans is 16.2 percent. If you go, if you listen to discussions, political analysts and some political talks on urban radio stations, black Americans are very, very angry with the president. They feel slighted. And the worry for the president is not that that population is going to suddenly go and vote republican, but that they are not going to turn out at all. And in the south in particularly, that‘s a problem for the 2012.
UYGUR: Right. I hear you Michelle. Look, on the first part you‘re saying about, hey, he is an shoo-in, I actually totally agree with that. And Bob, I want to ask you about that. But I want to give you some polls here. Again, this is from the new NBC News poll. When matched up against Romney, President Obama is still winning by six points. When matched up against Pawlenty is crushing him by 13 points. Romney is polling away actually from the rest of the field. He‘s at 30 percent among the Republicans. Far above anyone else. Look, 49 percent approval rating is fantastic at this point with this economy. Can he keep it up? Or does he have structural problems here that if Romney wins he can expose.
FRANKEN: Well, I mean, you could say that that is an approval rating for Barack Obama. Or you could say that it is sort of a reflected disapproval rating for the opposition right now. And as far as Mitt Romney is concerned, I think that he is leading in the yes, whatever category when it comes to Republicans. He is certainly not somebody who makes the blood boil of his supporters. The problem with Barack Obama might be that the last time around, he created an army of people really enthusiastic to make history and all that type of thing. His problem may be that because he‘s had to make the kind of compromises that any president has to make, that the passion may be gone in his followers who may stay home and leave the passion to those on the right wing.
UYGUR: All right. For my purposes, I think he‘s got to really watch those numbers. The longer unemployment stays that high, the bigger trouble he‘s in. We‘ll see if the Republicans have anybody that could take advantage of they‘re or if they keep going further and further right wing.
All right. Michelle Bernard, Bob Franken, Matt Lewis, you guys were all great. Thank you so much for the discussion.
BERNARD: Thank you.
UYGUR: All right. Now, when we come back, radio talk show host, Rush back and Hannity are in suppose. Are they sell-outs? We will show you exactly how far right groups are paying off conservative radio in the millions.
Plus, Congressman Peter King targets Muslim Americans again. And Herman Cain calls for a loyalty test of Muslims. And Gingrich compares Muslims to Nazis. Where‘s the anger over these comments? We‘ll talk about that, next.
UYGUR: Now, for the latest installment of our Of Course segment. We have the unholy alliance of the right wing talk shows and conservative think tanks. Political reports three right wing Think Tanks. The Heritage Foundation, Freedom Works and Americans for Prosperity are shelling out big bucks to sponsor the top conservative talk radio shows. The Heritage Foundation paid roughly $2 million to sponsor Rush Limbaugh last year and Sean Hannity got about $1.3 million from the same group in 2010. The cash price—promotional tie-ins and regular on air plugs like this request from Glenn Beck asking listeners to donate to Freedom Works.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK, THE GLENN BECK PROGRAM: Freedom Works has a—has a plan. They need to—they need some financing. They need your help.
UYGUR: Now, Beck acknowledges that Freedom Works pays him, right? But remember, the guy is funding these Think Tanks for the richest people in the country who want to push the ideas of lower taxes for the rich and less regulation on their businesses, so for example, they can pollute more. And low and behold, after receiving millions of dollars from them, Rush, Hannity and Beck are in favor of gutting the EPA, killing cap-and-trade and massively lowering taxes for the top one percent. So, you know what I have to say about that? And say it with me, Of Course.
UYGUR: Well, they‘ve done it. The Republicans have officially crossed the line. Using rhetoric so vile and bigoted that they are in for a backlash of epic proportions. In one instance, Presidential Candidate Herman Cain said, he would have a hard time letting Jewish people serve in his administration. He wants them to pass a loyalty test. And Newt Gingrich said, he wants to treat Mormons like potential enemies. Testing to see whether they‘re loyal to the U.S. because some are trying to infiltrate the government he says. Now, that‘s shocking, right? Now, here is reality. I changed the words. Cain didn‘t say Jewish people, and Gingrich didn‘t say, Mormons. They were both actually talking about Muslims. And how nervous they get at the idea Muslims serving in their administrations. So, I want to ask you, does that make it better? Why wasn‘t this the biggest story to come out of the republican debate?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HERMAN CAIN, 2012 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would not be comfortable because have you peaceful Muslims and then you have militant Muslims. Those that are trying to kill us.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Now, I just want to go out on a limb here. I‘m in favor of saying to people, if you‘re not prepared to be loyal to the United States, you will not serve in my administration, period.
We did this in dealing with the Nazis and we did this in dealing with the communists. And it was controversial both times. And both times we discovered after a while, you know there are some genuinely bad people who would like to infiltrate our country and we have to have the guts to stand up and say no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Now, think about that. Gingrich just said, we should treat a whole religious group in our country like Nazis. And everybody was, they could have said that about any other group in the country. And would they have made it? No. They would have been instantly illuminated from the race. But look, this is much bigger than just Cain and Gingrich. It‘s starting to infest a lot of the GOP. Today, Congressman Peter Cain held a second round of hearings on the so-called radicalizations of Muslims. And at last count, right wingers in 15 different states have proposed various bans on Sharia or foreign law from their courts. Who is trying to institute Sharia law in this country? The answer is absolutely no one. This is another boogie man and a long list of boogie man, the right wing has use in this country to scare people into voting for them. They do it so often and so casually that no one even raises an eyebrow over it any more.
All right. Let‘s talk about it now. With me now is Mark Potok he‘s the director of intelligence project for the Southern Poverty Law Center. Mark, am I right in saying that if they have said this about any other religious group, that they would be toast, they would be gone but they said it about Muslims, so everybody is like, oh, no big deal.
MARK POTOK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: Well, I think that it is true. That in this country, if you say certain things about Jews, about African-Americans and certain other groups. You will be vilified publicly very quickly. And that sure, that seems to be a whole lot less true of Muslims in this country. You know, I mean, this hearings today were about this supposed radicalization of Muslims in prison. And the reality is, is that while that occurs on a very small scale, it is infinitesimal compared to the radicalization we say by, for instance radical right wing white supremacist groups. The Aryan Brotherhood, the Aryan Nations, the neopagans, those so called oddness who organize racist groups and prisons and so on. So, this is really a bit of a fantasy, the congressional research service has found that one out of 40 violent attacks, terrorist attacks in the last ten years, since 9/11 in fact, involved radicalizations by Muslims in prison. So, you know, I just think that what we are seeing is a kind of orgy of Muslim bashing.
UYGUR: Right. I mean, you are looking into problems in prisons. Peter Cain, has he ever looked at Neonazis? They have been around forever in prisons. They aren‘t in groups that you‘re talking about, that you guys struck. Never. But when it comes to Muslims, look at the hate groups in the U.S. Ku Klux Klan, 221. You got Neonazis. You got black separatists. You got white nationalists. You got all these different branch of, you know, radicals that nobody gets investigated except the Muslims. And Mark, how we‘ve seen this before, what concerns me is, not oh, they‘re anti-Muslims. OK, I get that, right? I mean, Cain has made that incredibly clear. Newt Gingrich has made that incredibly clear. What worries me is that, this is the start of something much worse, this is how things get started. When it becomes OK to hate a certain group of people.
POTOK: Well, I think there is a lot of truth to that. I think, you know, I mean, we all have to wonder last year, when this kind of current wave, anti-Muslims hysteria began, where was this coming from? It was quite clear of course, after 9/11 what it was all about. People were outraged and angry and looking for somebody to beat up on. And actually at that time, President Bush played a very healthy role. He went out and said, you know, Muslims are not our enemy, a very specific network. Al Qaeda is our enemy. What happened last year, the truth is, in my view anyway, is that politicians looking to gym up their ratings or whatever, were out there really making this kind ever hysteria where none existed before. So, as you say, you know, we now have 15 states looking at imposing bans on Sharia law, which are completely nonsensical. There is no way under the U.S. constitution that Sharia law could be implemented in any sense.
UYGUR: But that‘s what they do.
POTOK: That is demonization and fear mongering and nothing more.
UYGUR: Exactly. They separate a single group out, and then they attack them, they demonize them. And look, Peter King, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, they are your present day demagogues of bigotry and that‘s what they do for a living. And that‘s how they think they may get their votes. Mark Potok is a guy who tracks all this at the Southern Poverty Law Center about real hate groups. Thank you for your time tonight. We really appreciate it.
All right, when he can come back, Tea Party summer camp. Oh, what a disaster. You‘re going to want to hear about that.
UYGUR: Summer is finally here. Kids are out of school and some are headed off to summer camp where their days will be filled with hiking, smores, kickball and fun things like that. But if you are worried your kids will be spending a little bit too much time in a canoe and not enough time learning about freedom, look no further. Because Tea Party summer camp is here. The Tampa 9/12 projects is a Florida Tea Party group that is hosting the Tampa Liberty School. It‘s a Tea Party summer camp for kids eight to 12 years old. The camp wants to teach kids the principles of liberty, free markets, faith and limited government. You may remember the Tea Party for this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: House Republicans don‘t need to pass anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Wouldn‘t it be lovely to have Congress do nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: My parents think I‘ve gone crazy, only Glenn Beck understands me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UYGUR: Is this what they are going to teach the kids to become? But this summer they will also definitely teach your kids to say things like, quote and I‘m quoting here, “I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.” First of all, how‘s an 8-year-old working hard for what he has. He‘s eight. Second, why do you teach the kids to be selfish? Create American values there. These kids say, I work hard for my toys, I will not share them with any other kids. It‘s a real classy.
The liberty schools model that for Vacation Bible Schools which use fun hands-on activities to deliver Christian messages. Except, a Tea Party camp, kids learn the activities like learning the value of gold. This camp really is republican as it gets. Listen, counsels will hand out hard-wrapped candies to use as currency in the store. The candies is supposed to symbolizes the gold standard. The next day, the banker will issue paper money, and the kids will learn overtime that paper money buys less and less. But the candy still pays pretty sweet. Then the kids will be forced invest in gold line. Another fun activity, they sit the kids down in a bland room and force them to be quiet. Why? That room is supposed to symbolize Europe. Oh, come on. This is insanity.
Then the children pass through an obstacle course to arrive in a brightly decorated room with confetti falling from the ceiling, symbolizing freedom in America. But freedom comes from responsibility, so the kids have to clean up the confetti. All right. Now, they also teach the kids about the danger of socialism with bubbles. They give the kids bubbles containers. And they ask them to blow bubbles, and they do it with other kids. They say, they‘re not going to get as many bubbles as if they do it by themselves. It seems that every single things that they teach the kids here is, it‘s mine and I won‘t share it with anybody. Who teaches their kids to be selfish like this? It‘s insanity. But look, this is all projection. This is what they think that, you know, remember they said about Obama, he is trying to indoctrinate the kids. This is indoctrinating the kids.
All right. Thank you for watching the show. “HARDBALL” is next.
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