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The Ed Show for Tuesday, June 12, 2012

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Guests: Norm Ornstein, Thomas Mann, Robert Reich, Howard Fineman, Richard Wolffe, Russell Simmons

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, GUEST HOST: Good evening, Americans. Welcome to
THE ED SHOW. I`m Michael Eric Dyson, in for Ed Schultz.

Tonight, the Republican plan to sabotage President Obama is put on
trial, and I`ll offer some free legal advice to the clan.

This is THE ED SHOW and -- as Ed would say -- let`s get to work.


BILL MAHER, TV HOST: Let`s be honest: the Republicans are stalling
every effort that he has tried to make to create jobs and help the economy.

DYSON (voice-over): Americans are waking up to Republican sabotage
and new polling proves it. Authors Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein say
Republicans are the problem and they`re here tonight.

A new report shows net family worth down 40 percent in three years.
Wall Street is back, corporations are making record profits. Where is the
recovery for the 99 percent? I`ll ask former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

And should A-list white celebrities get a pass for using the "N" word?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gwyneth gets a pass. But will people get a pass?

DYSON: Russell Simmons has a lot to say about Gwyneth Paltrow`s
tweet. We`ll get into the issue tonight.


DYSON: Today, the American public gave a direct answer to a direct
question. Yes, they believe Republicans are sabotaging the economy in
order to defeat President Obama. In a new poll, 49 percent say Republicans
are intentionally stalling efforts to jump-start the economy to ensure
Obama is not reelected, 50 percent of independents believe the same, that
Republicans have sabotaged the economy for political gain.

This is not a new idea but it has not yet gotten the attention it
deserves. Not too long ago, it was the ideal that dare not speak its name.
You could accuse Republicans of a lot of things, the thinking went, but
sure live they would not intentionally sabotage the economy to keep
President Obama from winning election, would they?

Then, came the infamous quote from Senate Minority Leader Mitch
McConnell who said this just before the midterm elections two years ago,
"The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama
to be a one-term president." Senator McConnell caught so much flak for
that, he tried to back pedal and said it was simply his chief political


priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second

Well that, is true. That`s my single most important political goal
along with every active Republican in the country, but that`s -- that`s in
2012. Our biggest goal for this year is to get this country straightened

Their story line is that there must be some villain out there who is
keeping this administration from succeeding.


DYSON: They say Democrats want to create a villain, that it`s not
true that Republicans sabotaged the president. But then came the book from
Robert Draper, detailing how the efforts to block Obama began on the very
night of his inauguration, with a bevy of lawmakers like Congressman Eric
Cantor and Congressman Paul Ryan, as well as the likes of former House
Speaker Newt Gingrich and pollster Frank Luntz.

But wait, Republicans cry foul. They say it`s only their principled
differences that led them to vote against the president again and again.
But here`s the catch -- when Republicans vote against their own ideas, you
know something stinks -- when they were for it before they were against it.

The Republican Party used to support infrastructure spending but not
when President Obama asks for it. More on that in a moment.

Republicans used to allow deficit spending to get us out of
recessions. They did it under their hero Ronald Reagan. Under President
George W. Bush alone, they allowed massive tax cuts toward Medicare Part D
-- all unpaid for, all of those items ballooning the deficit.

Before President Obama, Republicans rarely voiced opposition to the
Federal Reserve using monetary policy to help the economy. Under President
Obama, the Federal Reserve Chief Ben Bernanke is called every name in the

But you know Republicans are trying to sabotage the economy when they
vote against tax cuts. As when they opposed extending the payroll tax cut
benefiting middle-class Americans.

Let`s not forget Republicans voted against a stimulus bill that was 40
percent tax cuts. Let`s not forget that Republicans brought the country to
the precipice of default, for the first time in the history of our country,
over their refusal to extend the debt limit.

And when bad economic news hit, as it did with last month`s jobs
report, they pounce.


REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: You know, these job numbers
are pathetic. And, you know, the American people really deserve better,
and I think under the right leadership, we can do better.

taken our advice and worked with us, the economy would be better. More
Americans would have better jobs. More Americans would have better
incomes. That`s clear to us.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is very bad news for
the American people and the president is always quick to find someone to
blame. First, it was George Bush and then it was Congress, ATM machines,
Europe -- he`s always got someone. But the truth is the job of the
president is get America back to work.


DYSON: It all plays into the hands of the presumptive Republican
nominee Mitt Romney, who has the audacity to ask the president to produce a
jobs plan.


ROMNEY: With 23 million people out of work or stop looking for work,
he hasn`t put forward a plan to get us working again. Now, I know we`re
getting close to an election, so he`ll come out with one soon. But three
and a half years later, we`re waiting.


DYSON: The intentional stalling continues to this day. The latest
specific example is the transportation bill. This bill includes vital
infrastructure spending and in years past would garner bipartisan support.
These transportation bills are often passed in five or six increments, but
a two-year extension of the transportation bill a dwindling to a possible
six-month extension.

Republicans like to complain about uncertainty? This creates
uncertainty and could cost tens of thousands of jobs.

Senator Harry Reid accused Congressman Eric Cantor of trying to
sabotage the economy by blocking an agreement on the transportation bill, a
suggestion that was called bull you-know-what by a spokesman for Boehner.

Get your cell phones out. I want to know what you think. Tonight`s
question: do you believe Republicans are deliberately trying to sabotage
President Obama? Text A for yes, text B for no, to 622639. Or go our blog
at I`ll bring you the results later on the show.

I`m joined by Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American
Enterprise Institute, and Thomas Mann, senior fellow at the Brookings
Institution. They are co-authors of the remarkable new book, "It`s Even
Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with
the New Politics of Extremism".

Gentlemen, welcome to the show.

Michael. Great to be with you.

with you, Michael.

DYSON: Thank you, sirs.

Republicans intentionally stalling efforts to jumpstart the economy --
give us your view on this. We get a sense of what your book has been about
but give as you deeper insight into this conundrum.

ORNSTEIN: Well, I would say you`re certainly right. If you look at
the history of things that have been supported by Republicans in the past
and the urgency of action now and transportation, of course, it`s the
summer construction jobs in particular, a market that`s really hurting

But there`s another piece of evidence that I find quite disturbing and
that is a top Romney economic adviser, his top economic adviser wrote an
op-ed in a major German newspaper attacking Obama`s economic policies, and
urging the Germans to pursue even more their policy of austerity. That`s
just not anything we`ve seen before, interfering abroad in the middle of a
campaign. And it`s really pretty troubling.

DYSON: Yes. Well, here`s Bill Maher just talking about it recently.


MAHER: Let`s be honest, the Republicans are stalling every effort
that he has tried to make to create jobs and help the economy.

MICHAEL BRENDAN DAUGHERTY: I spoke to a senator earlier this week and
he told me that -- a Republican senator told me that Mitch McConnell has
told his conference that we`re not doing anything, we won`t make a single
move between now and the election because any move could be risky and all
of this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is sliding down on President Obama.


DYSON: Is this idea gaining traction and does the poll reflect that
do you think?

MANN: I think it`s beginning to although it`s been perfectly clear
since the beginning of the Obama administration that the minority
Republicans saw their way back to power through the failure of President
Obama and that meant the failure of the economy.

So, I`m sure in their own minds they dignify it by saying we`re have
serious substantive differences and our program, our way, would have been
more successful. But as your lead-in suggested, so many times they have
moved away from positions that they have long supported once President
Obama embraced it.

DYSON: Right.

MANN: We have such powerful incentives for the minority party to take
down the majority whatever the consequences to the economy. Right now, the
Republicans are so persuaded by the righteousness and wisdom of their way
and their leadership that they`re prepared to do that.

DYSON: Yes, it`s certainly to the detriment of the country.

Here`s the president talking about the Republican hypocrisy on the
deficit. Let`s take a listen.


to a restaurant, orders a big steak dinner, martini, all that stuff and
then just as you`re sitting down, they leave --


OBAMA: -- and accuse you of running up the tab.



That`s a good line, but the president really will have to press this
case. He`s not yet willing to accuse Republicans of deliberate sabotage.
However, should he?

ORNSTEIN: Well, one of the things that did work for him, you
mentioned earlier, the payroll tax cut. And you had for a long time,
Republicans in Congress resisting the idea of tax cuts for average
Americans, even though they`ve all signed the Norquist pledge and that
would in effect amount to a tax increase because it had been implemented

Only when President Obama turned up the heat on this issue and it
began to gain political traction did you see some change back. And the
fact is in so many of these areas, where Republicans tried to block action
or make it seem much, much worse by making it more acrimonious, as long as
they could get away with it, politically and not suffer, they could go
ahead and do it blithely.

You`ve got to do that harder to make it work and put him more on the
defensive. That`s what his rhetoric now in the use of the bully pulpit is
aimed at doing, which he didn`t do for much of the first two years.

DYSON: Sure. That blithe indifference, though, has negative
calculations or at least negative consequences for the rest of us out here
trying to, you know, get bills passed in Congress or those who need the
resources those billings can make available. Do you have any doubt that if
Mitt Romney were elected president, Republicans would find a way suddenly
to pass basic things like -- I don`t know, infrastructure bills?

MANN: Oh, for sure. This is the bread and butter of members of
Congress. It`s absolutely essential for those constituents, those workers
and businesses people who simply need an effective communication in order
to succeed in this country. We`re so under-investing now in the basics of
a modern economy, there`s no reason to oppose it.

There`s every reason to say we should do more now because of the high
unemployment rate and the particular problems facing the construction

So, no, I have no doubts that they will find a way to pass a
transportation bill if they take the White House and both houses of

ORNSTEIN: You know, Michael --

DYSON: Norm, I was going to ask you quickly before you leave, you
jump in, but I want to ask you, too. What`s the fallout from your book? I
mean, here you are -- are a noted conservative, a thinker who has been
self-critical in terms of what the Republicans, or especially the
conservatives have done. What`s the fallout from all of that?

ORNSTEIN: Well, keep in mind I`m a much more a raging moderate than
conservative. But, you know, we`re -- I`m taking flak, as Tom is, for
coming out and basically saying we`ve got false equivalents here.

You know, we`ve spent 40 years of building reputations of being
straight forward, calling it as we see it, not taking a partisan stance.
We`re still calling it as we see it. But we`re using the political capital
we built up, because it`s necessary and important right now. The country
is facing big, big problems. And if you don`t lay out where the blame is,
then voters aren`t going to know who to hold accountable and aren`t going
to do much about it.

DYSON: Good enough.

Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann -- thank you so much for your time

ORNSTEIN: Thank you.

MANN: Thank you.

DYSON: Remember to answer tonight`s question there at the bottom of
the screen and share your thoughts at Twitter @EdShow. We want to know
what you think.

Coming up, the numbers don`t like, but they sure do hurt. See how the
recession has gutted the middle class and why the Republicans aren`t doing
anything to stop it.

You`re watching THE ED SHOW on Stay tuned.


DYSON: Coming up on THE ED SHOW, the Federal Reserve shows us just
how hard the middle class was hit during the recession. We`ve got the
figures. And I`ll talk with former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, next.

Mitt Romney`s surrogates aren`t doing much to help him walk back his
comments about public sector jobs.


be fewer teachers? The honest answer is yes.


DYSON: Howard Fineman and Richard Wolffe will join me on that.

And Gwyneth Paltrow caused a stir when she used the n-word in the
tweet. There are some who want to give Gwyneth a pass. I`m not one of
them. The great Russell Simmons is here to discuss.

Share your thoughts with us on Twitter using the #EdShow.

We`ll be right back.


DYSON: If you`re a member of the middle class, the Fed calculated
your pain today. It figured out exactly what this recession has cost your
family -- and trust me it`s a lot. The Federal Reserve puts out a survey
of consumer finances every three years. We should probably issue a warning
-- this is ugly.

The Fed says the net worth of the average American family plunged
almost 39 percent from 2007 to 2010. Here`s another way to look at it --
the average family`s net worth dropped from more than $126,000 to less than
$78,000. As bad as that is, you need to remember two things -- this study
covers three years, two and a half of them were under the Bush

And the reason the recession is worse for the middle class than for
the wealthy is because of this, the housing crisis. The net worth of a
middle-class family is basically the value of their house. The wealthiest
Americans have a variety of assets like stocks or airplanes or six houses
like Mitt Romney does.

But when the market went belly up, the middle-class took hits on the
only asset they had, their homes. This should be an "everybody out of the
poll" moment for the Republican Party. They should be scrambling to help
the American people, right?

And economists don`t disagree on what we should do.


This is not about one side being better than the other. This is not
calculus, it`s just math.


DYSON: Simple. Just pass bipartisan bills on home refinancing,
education, taxes and stimulus. The legislation is ready and waiting.

Instead, this is what we got today.


ROMNEY: The president doesn`t understand how his policies have made
things so hard for the American people. It`s finally time to have a
president who`s in touch with what`s happening in America and I am. And
I`ll bring back America`s strength.


DYSON: Let`s turn to Robert Reich, former secretary of labor under
President Clinton, now a professor of public policy at U.C. Berkeley and
the author of the book, "Beyond Outrage".

You got to have another outrage here, Secretary Reich, for this
deplorable and utterly vapid comment by Mr. Romney.

What caused this negative for average Americans?

Federal Reserve -- a survey, a report, that makes it absolutely clear that
when the bottom fell out of the economy starting in 2007, it hit the middle
class especially hard.

As you said, Michael, housing prices have fallen by a third on average
and most of the middle class has almost all of its assets in its homes. I
mean, you know, the middle class, they may have a 401(k), they may have a
little bit of a pension fund, a little savings in the stock market, but
most of their savings, most of their assets are in their home. And with
home values a third less than they were in 2006, 2007, obviously, the
middle class is squeezed.

That same report also shows that the median wage since 2007 has
dropped over 7 percent. That`s the median. That`s people who are right
there in the middle, half above, half below.

And that also explains why this recovery has been so anemic. People
don`t have money in their pocket. They feel poorer, they`re worried

How Republicans can continue to claim that the rich need more tax
breaks or that the problem is government regulation or that corporations
need more tax breaks when the Federal Reserve board puts out a survey like
this making it absolutely clear what has happened, the crisis is a crisis
of middle class. I don`t get it.

DYSON: Yes. Well, neither do I. Because the Fed survey shows most
Americans are actually cutting down on consumer debt and getting loans to
go back to school. So what does the average Joe really need to do here?

REICH: Well, the average people, what do they need? They need help.
You know, one out of four or five people with mortgages are still
underwater, they need help with mortgage refinancing.

And number two, they need help with school. They want to get ahead if
they`re not in a job where they`re working part time, they need help with
financing school. These are not handouts. These are helping hands.

They also need -- you know, we`re talking about -- nobody is talking
about a big major stimulus right now but we do need right now roads,
bridges, a kind of WPA, a Civilian Conservation Corps for the long-term
unemployed. I mean, we did this even in the 1930s, you know, when at the
depths of the depression, we tried it and it actually worked until 1937
when we did just the reverse and a lot of Republicans wanted to us do it
and that is pull in the rein, stop spending, cut the budget deficit.
That`s not what you do right now.

DYSON: Well, yes, you name some of the legislation that worked in the
past. Give us as sense -- how do we conclude anything except that the
Republicans are so deeply mired in their own wealth belt that they can`t
see beyond the girth they`ve been able to manage here and see the regular
situation of average Americans? I mean, is it that -- are they that tone
deaf to what`s going on with the rest of the middle class?

REICH: Well, they are mired in their own ideology. They`re also
mired in what Mitch McConnell claimed several years ago and that is their
number one goal is to get Barack Obama out of the White House.

And, thirdly, they are telling big lies. They tell those big lies
over and over again. They tell them on every media outlet they possibly

They have an extraordinary war chest right now and those big lies are
again corporations need tax cuts, the rich need tax cuts, trickle down
economics works, and nothing that Obama wants to do and nothing that common
sense dictates we do right now is necessary.

DYSON: Yes. Well, that George Gilder trickle down economy didn`t
work then and it ain`t working now.

Corporations had record profits last year. How does that square with
the report we got today?

REICH: Well, corporations -- look, not only are they sitting on
record profits. Now, the stock market is down, but corporations are still
doing very, very well. They have between $1 trillion and $2 trillion of
cash they`re sitting on, Michael.

I mean, the idea that they need more money or tax relief or more
regulatory relief as the Republicans put it, in order to create jobs is
laughable. Jobs are created by the middle class because when the middle
class has enough money in their pockets to spend, that`s with businesses
say, yes, now we have to expand. Now, we have to hire more people.

But it`s not until the middle class has enough money to spend we get
the response from the private sector.

Anybody who says any differently just doesn`t know anything about the

DYSON: As usual, thank you for that fire and focus. Robert Reich,
thanks for joining us.

REICH: Thanks very much.

DYSON: Mitt Romney is standing his ground on the debate over the need
for more teachers and other public service workers. Howard Fineman and
Richard Wolffe will join me later.

And the KKK in Georgia is trying to clean up their image by cleaning
up roads. They want to join the state`s adopt a highway program. You
won`t believe what I have to say about this time. Stay tuned.



ROMNEY: He wants another stimulus. He wants to hire more government
workers. He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers.

Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did.
It`s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.


DYSON: Mitt Romney finally had to answer a direct question about his
world view on teachers, firefighters and police officers. But as you would
expect, he wasn`t being grilled by the most hard-hitting journalism in the


ROMNEY: The president is really out of touch with what`s happening in

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS: He says that you`re out of touch. He says
that you want to cut firefighters and teachers. That you don`t understand
what`s going on in these communities. What do you say?


DYSON: Hang on a moment. He says you want to cut firefighters and
teachers? Let`s remind everyone once again who said it in the first place.


ROMNEY: He says we need more firefighters, more policemen, more
teachers? Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people
did. It`s time for us to cut back on government.


DYSON: OK. We just want to make sure it`s clear who raised the issue
of not hiring teachers, firefighters and police officers.

Let`s continue with the withering journalistic assault from "FOX &


DYSON: He says that you`re out of touch. He says that you want to
cut firefighters and teachers. That you don`t understand what`s going on
in these communities. What do you say to that, Governor?

ROMNEY: Well, that`s a very strange accusation. Of course teachers
and firemen and policemen are hired at the local level and also by states.
The federal government doesn`t pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen.
So, obviously, that`s completely absurd.


DYSON: So Romney completely avoids the original point he made and
instead said it`s absurd to think the government can pay for public service

One guy who didn`t think this was so absurd was Massachusetts Governor
Mitt Romney. When he was governor and had to close a budget gap, largely
due to state payroll costs, $500 million in unanticipated federal grants
further reduced the Massachusetts budget shortfall," according to

But back to today. In one breath, Mitt Romney said it`s absurd to
think federal money can go toward state and local employment; in the next
breath, he slammed the president for trying to do the exact thing he says
can`t be done.


ROMNEY: He`s got a new idea, though, and that is to have another
stimulus and to have the federal government send money to -- to try to bail
out cities and states. It didn`t work the first time. It certainly
wouldn`t work the second time.


DYSON: The president`s plan to prevent more state and local layoffs
is hardly a new idea, as Romney calls it. The American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus plan, created or saved 1.4 to
3.3 million jobs. That`s according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget
Office. What kind of jobs are we talking about when we say state and local
government jobs? Mostly teachers, who represent the overwhelming majority
of state and local jobs. Protective services like cops and firefighters
are number two.

Let`s back up for a minute. Last Friday, Mitt Romney said Americans
don`t want more teachers, firefighters or police officers. Yesterday, his
campaign surrogate said there was wisdom in his comments. Today, Romney
claims it`s not possible for the federal government to create new jobs
through state and local governments.

So which one is it, Mitt? If only we could find someone in the
Republican party willing to tell the truth.


grips with how big the challenge is. And does that mean there will be
fewer teachers? The honest answer is yes.


DYSON: I never thought I would see the day when Newt Gingrich was the
honesty broker in the Republican party. I`ll have a lot more on this story
with Howard Fineman and Richard Wolffe. Is Mitt Romney campaigning to be
president of fantasy land?

And there`s a lot more coming up on THE ED SHOW.

Breaking news out of Georgia, a judge rules the Ku Klux Klan may not
adopt a highway. I`ll tell you why I disagree with the ruling.

And can anyone get a pass for using the "N" word?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- a proud (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You know what I`m
saying? So that`s my homey. Shout out to grant. Some people gets a pass.


DYSON: Hip hop icon and entrepreneur Russell Simmons has a lot to say
on the issue and he`s here tonight.



harder work hasn`t led to higher incomes. Bigger profits at the top
haven`t led to better jobs across the board. You can`t solve that problem
if you can`t even see it.


DYSON: That was President Obama at a fund-raiser in Baltimore,
Maryland today. The race is on to see which candidate can label the other
one as the most out of touch with the American people. Will any of the
rhetoric move the needle when it comes to the election?

Let`s turn to Howard Fineman, NBC News political analyst and editorial
director of the Huffington Post Media Group, and MSNBC political analyst
Richard Wolffe. Gentlemen, welcome to the show.



DYSON: Howard, let`s start with you. Is the Romney camp handling
this teacher, fighter and firefighter and police officer situation very

FINEMAN: Well, I don`t think so, because they need to be careful.
And even a lot of conservative strategists that I talk to, including those
that work at American Crossroads, which is one of the leading independent
super PACs, say you have to be extremely careful on this. And you have to
make sure if you`re a Republican or if you`re a conservative that you don`t
look like you`re against the teachers, the firefighters and the police.

Today on his radio show, Rush Limbaugh was trying to argue that those
these categories of workers are not public employees. I couldn`t quite
figure out his logic in terms of the facts. But politically what he was
trying to say is let`s be careful. And I don`t think Mitt Romney has been.

DYSON: Richard, to Howard`s point, when the American people are
polled on this topic, they overwhelmingly want federal money to be spent on
teachers and first responders. How in the heck can the Romney campaign get
around that?

WOLFFE: They can`t. And that`s why they`re trying to shift the topic
of discussion here. Romney`s comments today, with a strange immersion in
the relationship between the federal government and the state government.
If anyone`s been paying attention, they`d know that a third of the stimulus
dollars went to shore up state budgets, to keep these people in their jobs.

So he`s hoping that people don`t understand or just accept that
there`s some arms length between the two. That means the federal
government doesn`t have a say in this. But Howard`s right. The politics
of this doesn`t work for Mitt Romney.

There`s also a failure of the bigger argument. How do you create jobs
if you want to cut jobs? You may not think public sector jobs are as
worthy as private sector ones. But still they`re jobs. If you`re going to
cut jobs, how do you then have a plan to create them?

DYSON: Talking about some strange and fuzzy math. So Howard, James
Carville`s firm, Democracy Corp, came out with a memo today saying the
Obama campaign needs to change the economic narrative or risk losing the
election. Is the Obama campaign taking this to heart? Or is this more of
Carville ginning it up to try to inspire the team?

FINEMAN: Well, there`s several things at work here. One of them is
the never ending friction between the Clinton camp and the Obama camp, and
two ways of looking at the fate and responsibilities of the Democratic
party. The Clinton people were the -- to short hand it, the pro business
wing of the Democratic party. And they`re trying to portray Barack Obama
somehow as something other than that.

So that`s part of it. Another part of it here is that the president
does need to talk in more aggressive terms not only about what he`s done
right, but what he wants to do. In the end, the argument really isn`t
about who is more out of touch or in touch. Even if they were perfectly in
touch, if they walked the streets, the meanest streets in America, and knew
them intimately, which neither of these people, you know, truly does, the
question is what do they want to do about it? What is their plan?

And it`s up to Barack Obama to articulate that convincingly, and to
argue, as he`s trying to do, that Mitt Romney just doesn`t have any plan
other than no. As the president said today, it`s something that Romney
could put on a Twitter -- on a Tweet and would still have a lot of
characters left.

DYSON: No doubt. Richard, given what Howard has just said and given
the tension between the Clinton camp and the Obama camp, not only arguments
against the other side, so to speak, but even introducing squabbles within
the Democratic party about subverting the leadership of Obama while arguing
that he`s not pro business enough. This neo-liberalism is creeping

How does he negotiate that while still trying to get over the message
to the other side.

WOLFFE: Look, there`s going to be second guessing and hand wringing
and every form of nervousness that Democrats can conjure up. There was in
2008. People panicked when Sarah Palin got picked. The only framing of
this question that really matter is Ronald Reagan`s framing of it, which is
are you better off now than you were four years ago?

The Romney camp believes that the answer is already out there. People
don`t feel good and therefore they feel worse off. But actually in January
of 2009, this economy was losing 800,000 jobs a month, not gaining 69,000.
That was a bad month, 69,000 gain in the last month. The stock market was
going down to a bottom of 6,000 something. It`s now at 12,000 something.

The situation is not what it was in 2009. The president has to tell
that story in a convincing way, and as well as doing what Howard says,
which is cast forward. If he doesn`t portray that, that sense of forward
movement, you know, he won`t have done what George Bush in 2004, which was
to say, I know things are bad in Iraq, but we`re a whole lot more secure
than we were before 9/11. He`s got to make that sale.

DYSON: You got to figure out does -- did George Bush have a
comparable James Carville on his flank, as opposed to Karl Rove, who was
reinforcing his point. Howard, what do you make of the new poll that shows
49 percent of Americans believe the GOP is trying to sabotage the economy
for political gain?

FINEMAN: Well, I think that`s something that the president can talk
about, but he has to be careful not to talk about it too much. I don`t
think he can win the election by listing a host of factors and people and
institutions to blame for the political and economic predicament that he`s

So he can let that sink in and he can emphasize it perhaps by pushing
some legislation in Washington and daring and demanding and seeing that the
Republicans will veto it. He can do that. I would also say, without being
unduly Polly Annish about the president`s chances here, this is a familiar
cycle that we haven`t seen the end of.

For now, you have the Clinton critics who are out criticizing him.
The next man bites dog stories will be Obama`s former supporters
criticizing him. Then they`ll be former members of the Obama
administration criticizing him. And then at some point, he has to hope, he
will hit bottom. And then the polarities will reverse, it will be the
story of the great comeback.

I`ve seen it a million times and we`re going through it right now.
We`re actually still in the early stages of it.

DYSON: That would be an Emersonian outcome, to be sure, the self
remaking of America. But Richard, is there any reason for the Republicans
to lose incentive to stop the strategy of obstruction at this point?

WOLFFE: At this point no. But do I think there is an danger for them
in continuing this obstructionism. This has been a crisis for this
country. And if they`re just playing politics at a time of crisis, it does
not help them. This cannot be the center piece of the Obama campaign.

But for Democrats, when they were trying to play politics with
national security through the Bush era, they got beaten time and time
again. Even through their successes in 2006, as long as they were talking
about maybe withdrawing funding for the troops, it did not work. Democrats
have to have the guts to go out there and say, the Republicans have been
playing with the equivalent of withdrawing funding for the troops.

Their denial of taking action, their obstructionism, their refusal to
support even a recovery act that gave a third of the money to tax cuts,
that itself was not patriotic. That was not part of what this country
stands for.

DYSON: There you have it from two of the best in the business, Howard
Fineman and Richard Wolffe. Thanks for your time tonight.

A KKK group in Georgia wants to adopt a highway so they can clean up
their image. But they need to clean up a whole lot more than just a
highway. We`ll have the latest next.


DYSON: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. A Ku Klux Klan group in Georgia
is trying to clean up their image by cleaning up roads. Believe it or not,
I say let them go for it.

The International Keystone Knights of the KKK filed an application
last month to join Georgia`s Adopt a Highway Program. They want to adopt a
one mile stretch of Highway 515 in North Georgia. The program enlists
volunteers from groups to pick up trash along the road. Each group that
participate gets a sign on the road with their name on it.

The Klan says this isn`t for publicity. They just want to keep the
road clean. A petition to stop the plan has already received
over 16,000 signatures. Earlier today, the Georgia Department of
Transportation denied the KKK`s request. The group is now threatening to
sue Georgia and they could be in for a long legal fight.

A similar battle took place in Missouri. The state tried to stop the
KKK from adopting a road by taking them to court. Missouri eventually lost
and the signs were put up. The courts ruled the First Amendment prevented
the state from denying the application because it disagreed with the Klan`s

In that case, the Klan didn`t actually pick up any trash and the signs
were taken down.

But you know what? I agree with the courts. I believe in free
speech. I believe in the Constitution. And as they say at the beginning
of "the Godfather," I believe in America.

Let the KKK adopt every highway from Georgia to Canada. It`s a great
starting point if they`re trying to clean up their image. But then they
should rebuild all the churches they`ve destroyed. They should rebuild all
the houses they`ve destroyed. And maybe they can even rebuild all the
lives that they`ve ruined.

Tonight in our survey, I asked you do you believe Republicans are
deliberately trying to sabotage President Obama? Ninety nine percent say
yes, one percent say no.

Coming up, controversy erupts after actress Gwyneth Paltrow Tweets the
"N" word. And is it ever OK for a white person to use the "N" word?
Russell Simmons will weigh in. Stay tuned.


DYSON: Words matter. Words have power, material effect, visceral
intensity. When you use a word that has an extensive and deeply painful
history, you shouldn`t be surprised when people get upset. Earlier this
month, actress Gwyneth Paltrow was in Paris attending a concert given by
pal Jay-Z and Kanye West.

Referencing perhaps the most popular song off the album "Watch the
Thrown," Paltrow Tweeted "N" words "in Paris for real." Perhaps more
troubling of her casual use of the word is the photo she attached to the
Tweet. It shows Paltrow on stage at the concert with three black males.

Needless to say, the Tweet caused a public uproar, forcing Paltrow to
defend herself but not, we should note, apologize. Paltrow issued yet
another Tweet suggesting her use of the "N" word was justified because Jay-
Z and Kanye use it. "Hold up, it`s the title of the song."

Paltrow missed the point. Rapper Q-Tip offered this reaction:
"Paltrow should have offered a "if I offended anyone, I`m truly sorry." As
a person who love black people and understand there`s a scope of black folk
that exist beyond the ones she partied with in Paris who are still dealing
with the complexities of their circumstances."

Meanwhile rapper Nas believes we should give Miss Paltrow a pass.


NAS, RAPPER: I will slap the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of somebody for
Gwyneth Paltrow. She`s the homey. She`s cool. If Gwyneth -- Gwyneth gets
a pass. Real people get a pass, man. We know what this (EXPLETIVE
DELETED) is. Gwyneth Paltrow`s a real (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

DYSON: My fellow Americans, what you`re seeing here are the internal
debates that occur quite frequently within African-American culture. On
the one hand is the acknowledgement that this is the most heinous word in
the history of American vocabularies, of character, and of assessment of
another people, African-American people that is, and on the other hand, the
argument that this has been used as a term of endearment for black people
to take the venom outside of the viper of the "N" word and drain it once
and for all.

So now that rappers put it on a 15 dollar CD and it gets circulated
around the globe, is it the same as Richard Pryor or Red Fox previously
using it within the confines of their own cultures? Some big questions.

Joining me now is Russell Simmons, founder of the news media site
"Global Grind." He`s blogged about his controversy. Russell Simmons,
welcome to the show.


DYSON: Look, you`ve talked about the painful origins of the word.
But you argue, quote, "we were able to take a vicious racist term and make
it a term of endearment. What up my -- that`s -- you my -- or just simply
my "N" word. We took control of something that was used for so much hate
and made it love."

Should everyone be allowed to use the word? And if so, in what

SIMMONS: Well, if you read the blog that you`re quoting, it said that
unless you have a direct blood line to a slave, then you probably shouldn`t
use it. But I also talked about the genius in our community that took the
pig feet and the chitlins, which was given to us and turned it into a
delicacy. It`s the genius of black people that we`re celebrating.

And I think that this particular incident with Gwyneth is something
that is innocent and it`s behind us. I mean, I`m not hear to talk about
that. We talked earlier about me coming on the show. And we talked about
the implications of our community using it. When is the first time you
heard that word, Michael?

DYSON: Absolutely. I told you it was with my pastor who was talking
about the members of his church. And we all know that word did not begin
with hip hop. Is it the point that --


SIMMONS: What hip hop did do is take our culture, whether it was our
fashion, whether it was our music, and put it into the mainstream.

DYSON: Right, no doubt.

SIMMONS: That reality is there. So we`ve taken something that you
know for 50 years as a term of endearment. It`s not something that rappers


SIMMONS: Let me just add, I don`t recommend you eat pig feet. I
don`t recommend you use the "N" word. What I am saying is it is something
that exists. And the intention has got to be the most important thing.

DYSON: Got you. No doubt.

SIMMONS: Her getting a pass by Nas, her getting a pass by some of the
people who know her and love her, and us letting her go is one thing. It`s
not something we recommend she continue to do. So -- but nor do we
recommend it`s OK because she got a pass to let everyone use it.


DYSON: Let me say this. Let me jump in, though. The point is this,
is that rappers who are have no sense of the historical complexity of how
this word has evolved, who have done, as you said brilliantly perhaps,
taken over the word, glorified it, glamorized it, talked about it, drained
the poison out of it, used it as a term of endearment, but who also have
some responsibility. Rappers doesn`t have the ability to give passes
arbitrarily to white people whom they happen to like, because white people
whom they may not like or know, who could use the term in a deleterious or
destructive fashion, will then deploy it in ways that hurt all black

So why is it that rappers get a pass of giving white people a pass?

SIMMONS: My father was a professor of black history. He became a
professor of black history. And he was an activist and a poet. When I was
a kid, he would say "N" go to church, "N" go to school. In fact, I thought
my name was "N" for a while. You probably had some of the same

DYSON: Of course.

SIMMONS: That reality seeps out into the communities, outside of the
black community. And some people mistakenly use the word. I managed the
Beasty Boy. I managed Third Base. In fact, all the first white rappers I
managed. Eminem has elected not to use it. I don`t recommend anyone who
doesn`t have a direct blood line to a slave use it.

DYSON: Don`t coolest white people know they don`t use that term?

SIMMONS: Mostly they do, that`s right.

DYSON: What do you make about the rappers?

SIMMONS: I think they`re great poets. And in some cases, it depends
on the subject matter. It all changes. It depends on the music. All
rappers are different. You mean about them using the word?

DYSON: I`m talking about in terms of them having an awareness or not
an awareness, a sense of the history about that word.

SIMMONS: Some do. Of course some do. I think Nas has an awareness
of that word and its history. But I think Nas -- and I think, for
instance, Reverend Run (ph) knows, and knew. And his sun, Diggie, who is
an educated kid, got a great -- he doesn`t really have this thing. He
probably -- in fact, I know he uses the same word.

So that reality is in our community. Just because a couple of more
affluent blacks and many other blacks, middle-class blacks object to it,
older generations, they can`t necessarily stop it. We have it. The word
is here. The word is being used a certain way.

DYSON: No doubt.

SIMMONS: That reality is -- how do we deal with it is the question.
I think that`s what we`re talking about.

DYSON: Listen here, absolutely right. We got 20 seconds left and
I`ll just say this. I would suggest to all white people, here`s a rule, an
ironclad law that will help you at all points, here`s when you can say the
"N" word: never.

Russell Simmons, thanks so much for your time today, my friend.

SIMMONS: Thank you. I agree with you.

DYSON: That`s "THE ED SHOW." I`m Michael Eric Dyson, in for Ed
Schultz. Ezra Klein is filling in for Rachel Maddow. I`m going to call
him the "B" word, brilliant, Good evening, Ezra.


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