'The Rachel Maddow Show' for Monday, July 2, 2012
Read the transcript to the Monday show
Past transcripts by month
Guests: Howard Dean, Dahlia Lithwick
ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SHOW": Bill Nye, thank you for your time. A lot
to talk about here, no question about it. Thank you for your time.
BILL NYE: Thank you.
SCHULTZ: That`s "THE ED SHOW." I`m Ed Schultz.
Ezra Klein is filling in for Rachel Maddow tonight.
Good evening, Ezra.
EZRA KLEIN, GUEST HOST: Good evening, Ed. Good to see you.
SCHULTZ: Good to see you.
KLEIN: Thank you very much.
And thank you to you at home for sticking around for the next hour.
Rachel has the night off.
But we have a really great show tonight. In fact, we literally have a
report that will change your understanding of the fundamental nature of the
universe. I am not at all kidding about that.
But we`re going to begin with a smaller but still pretty important
question. After Republicans lost in the court and if they lose in
November, can they still stop the Affordable Care Act? And would they even
Now, some say they can. They have come up with an exciting new plan
to keep the Affordable Care Act from stealing all your freedom. They will
fight it in the states.
Now, states can`t actually overturn federal law, but they can maybe,
possibly be convinced to refuse to go along with it. And so, that`s what
the Republicans are trying to do.
Representative Michele Bachmann has joined 12 Republican senators and
60 Republican House members to send a letter to all the governors, asking
them, in fact, even begging them not to cooperate with the Affordable Care
The letter says and I quote, "The Supreme Court has ruled significant
parts of the Medicaid expansion of the president`s health care law
unconstitutional, as well as ruling that an individual mandate violated the
Commerce Clause and will therefore be implemented as a punitive tax on the
middle class. As members of the U.S. Congress, we`re dedicated to the full
repeal of this government takeover of health care and we ask you to join us
to oppose its implementation."
Now, a quick note on that letter. That`s not really how I remember
the Supreme Court ruling because I remember them ruling the mandate is
constitutional and the Medicaid expansion is constitutional, but that the
federal government can`t take away all of the state`s Medicaid money if
they don`t participate in the new program -- something we`ll get to in a
But it sounded different the way they put it. More -- it was less
"this law is constitutional" and more the Supreme Court said it would make
George Washington cry a thousand tears, which is a little odd.
Anyway, the thing Republicans are asking governors to do in that
letter does not amount to much at all. They`re saying don`t set up the
health insurance exchanges which are the places in the bill you go to buy
the insurance. But if states don`t set them up, the law said the federal
government will set them up instead.
So, they`re saying, Republican governors, don`t set up the exchanges.
Let the Obama administration do it for you -- which is maybe a pain for the
Obama administration, but eh, I have a hard time getting worked up about
The bigger and more consequential effort here, the one I do get worked
up about is to get GOP governors to refuse to participate in the Medicaid
Now, they can actually do this. States don`t have to participate in
Medicaid. In fact, it took Arizona 20 years after the original Medicaid
program was set up to join in. And some GOP governors have already said
they`re going to try to sit this one out, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: Every governor has got two critical
decisions to make, one is do we set up these exchanges, and secondly, do we
expand Medicaid. And no, in Louisiana, we`re not doing either one of those
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: That is Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, saying his state
is going to pass up on a sweet, sweet deal.
And it`s worth spending a moment on this because it`s important to
understand why. There`s something weird in the design of the Affordable
Care Act, something you wouldn`t expect from the political care act. It`s
way nicer to red states than blue states. And the reason it`s way nicer to
red states is the Medicaid part.
The Medicaid part of the bill works like this -- right now, states
have a ton of leeway to decide who is and who isn`t eligible for Medicaid.
So, Texas, they only cover working adults up to 26 percent of the poverty
line, which is low. The poverty line for an individual is $11,170 a year.
So, you could be a single person making $3,000 a year and you`re not
poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. That`s part of the reason Texas has
the highest uninsured rate in the entire nation.
In Massachusetts, by contrast, they cover working adults up to 133
percent of the poverty level. Now, this is partly due to a bill signed by
a former governor whose name rhymed with Smitt Sromney. But leave that
aside for a moment.
It`s a big reason they have the lowest uninsured rate in the nation.
The Affordable Care Act wants to make the whole country like Massachusetts.
Everyone making up to 133 percent of the poverty line, which is less than
$15,000 for an individual, they get Medicaid. They get Medicaid
Right now, the federal government pays about 57 percent of Medicaid`s
costs. States pick up the rest. And that`s a good enough deal that every
single state participates.
In the Affordable Care Act, for the first three years, the state, the
feds will cover 100 percent of the difference between wherever the state is
now and where the law wants them to go, 100 percent.
After 2020, that drops a bit, but only drops to 90 percent. So, for
every dollar the state puts in, the feds will put in $9. It`s an
But here`s what`s perverse about it. The less you have been doing on
Medicaid so far, the more the federal government will pay on your behalf
That gets to the irony of the health care law. Red states have in
general done less than blue states to cover their residents, particularly
through Medicaid. And so, they`re going to get a sweeter deal under the
terms of the Affordable Care Act.
A state like Texas, they get a ton of money, because there`s a ton of
gap to make up. A state like Massachusetts, they get very little.
In fact, if you look at the 10 states that will benefit the most from
the Medicaid expansion, nine of them went for John McCain in 2008. If you
look at the 10 states that will see the smallest bumps in coverage, eight
of them went for Obama in 2008.
Now, one of the states that has promised to sit the Medicaid expansion
out is good old South Carolina. Rob Godfrey, spokeswoman -- spokesman, I`m
sorry, for Governor Nikki Haley said, quote, "We`re not going to shove more
South Carolinians into a broken system that further ties our hands when we
know the best way to find South Carolina solutions for South Carolina
health programs is through flexibility that block grants provide."
So, how are those South Carolina solutions working out? Nineteen
percent of South Carolina`s residents are uninsured. That is well above
the national average.
The Medicaid expansion in the new law would cut South Carolina`s
insurance rate among those eligible. Those are folks making less than 133
percent of poverty by 56 percent. So, 56 percent of the uninsured among of
those group wiped out in one go.
That`s the fourth best deal any state in the entire nation would get
under the Affordable Care Act. The cost of that for the federal government
between 2014 and 2019 is significant. It`s almost $11 billion. For South
Carolina, they`ll pay less than $500 million.
In the short term, a rising Republican star like Haley might have some
reason to reject that deal. One way to build a national profile is to win
the GOP`s ongoing, "no, I`m the most anti-Obamacare politician" contest.
But that contest isn`t going to last forever, and governors also have
to answer to non-Republican voters who don`t want their state missing out
on billions in federal dollars. And they have to answer to the hospitals
who don`t want to be paying for the uninsured patients who end up in the
emergency rooms when the federal government is offering to pick up the tab.
And they have to answer to the insured voters in those state, who end
up paying higher premiums in order to compensate the hospitals for paying
for the uninsured people who the feds are willing to pay for instead.
So if Mitt Romney loses this election and Republicans lose their last
chance to repeal Obamacare, their governors aren`t going to hold this line
for very long. They can`t afford to.
And when they finally do decide on the issue, they`re going to have an
easy argument with which to do it. Let`s just say it`s going to be a way
to stick it to the blue states that Obama back in office.
Joining us is former Democratic National Committee chairman and former
governor of Vermont and a physical himself, Dr. Howard Dean.
Dr. Dean, thank you very much for being here tonight.
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Ezra, thanks for having me on.
KLEIN: So, your state, Vermont, has one of the highest rates of
coverage in the nation, in large part due to lines you signed when you were
governor, and in part due to the Medicaid provisions in the laws. So, is
this Medicaid bill a good deal for Vermont?
DEAN: Not particularly, but, you know, we think universal health care
is a human right. So, we had it for children for about 20 years using
Medicaid. But Bill Clinton gave us a waiver so we could do that, and we
also had guaranteed issued community writing for about 20 years.
So, we`re pretty far ahead of the curb. I`d say that Massachusetts is
the only state ahead of us -- thanks to Governor Romney.
KLEIN: You know, one thing I think about when we watch some of these
fights from the outside is we tend to see party politics better than
interest group politics because it plays out in politics. So, we see
Governor Nikki Haley go on TV. We see her go on TV to appeal to the
conservative voters. But presumably, she and all governors are going to
have health care providers streaming into their offices and particularly
You`ve outspoken on this thing. You have to take the money. You
can`t leave us out in the cold here, right?
DEAN: That is what`s going to happen. Although South Carolina, when
I was campaigning for president, I said this yesterday on David Gregory
show yesterday, when I was campaigning for president, we figured that South
Carolina`s gross domestic product would increase by 2 percent if they just
had the same program Vermont did.
I mean, this is just stupidity if governors refuse this, because not
on lane does it insure a lot of people, it raises their gross domestic
product because it raises spending by the private sector and hospital
sector in every aspect of the state`s economy.
Now, Texas is -- I don`t care who the governor in Texas, they`re going
to take this money. It`s $52 billion, and they have a really sophisticated
network of hospitals, probably the third or fourth most sophisticated in
the whole country. They`re one of the real meccas of American medicine.
If you think that the governor, whoever it is, Republican or Democrat,
is going to be able to turn down $52 billion and not be eaten alive by
places like Baylor or Houston Medical Center, you got another thing coming.
There`s a payment called a disproportionate share payment that is made
to states to help them pay for uncompensated care. With every state except
Louisiana, that payment disappears. So, these hospitals are going to take
it on the chin and states with great medical establishments like Texas are
going to be left to being second class citizens if the governor doesn`t
take the money, and I think they will.
KLEIN: Yes, I think you`re right about that. But to be fair to them,
one argument some of these governors have made is that, sure, the law said
it will match it 90 percent beginning in 2020, but in two decades, Congress
could vote that down to 85 percent or 75 percent, or 55 percent, and then
the state is left holding the bag.
How likely do you think that would be?
DEAN: Look, in two decades, every nuclear power plant in Texas could
blow up. I don`t see them getting rid of their nuclear power plants. This
is ridiculous argument.
If that happens, they deal with it when it happens. It hasn`t
happened yet. There`s been talk about it for years.
The truth is the governors when they pull together, which they used to
do before 1994 in the Republican revolution, governors are a powerful force
in this country and the match has been very good. South Carolina gets 80
For Nikki Haley not to take that 80 percent from the federal
government is gubernatorial malpractice. It just is. I mean, that`s a
hell of a lot of money coming into a state that isn`t doing so well. And
they could do a lot better.
And the same with Mississippi and Louisiana and all those states that
are -- you know, in the 40s and all of the indicators of child health and
adult health and so forth and so on. It`s a ridiculous thing to do.
There`s no reason for them to be in the position they`re in, and with some
leadership in the governor`s office, they wouldn`t have to be with this
Look, I wasn`t a big supporter of Obama`s bill, but it`s the law of
the land. We might as will work with it, and I`m willing to work with the
parts I don`t like. I think it`s time the Republicans grow up a little and
start working with the parts they don`t like.
KLEIN: Former Democratic National Committee chairman and governor of
Vermont -- Dr. Howard Dean, thank you very much for being here tonight.
DEAN: Thank you.
KLEIN: Ahead, the behind the scenes drama that led to last week`s
Supreme Court decision. Dahlia Lithwick will join us with all of the
Plus, because we don`t mess around the small stuff here, we have a
moment of geek featuring nothing less than the secret of the cosmos.
That`s still ahead.
KLEIN: So how are Governor Chris Christie and Bruce Springsteen
alike? Well, they are both from New Jersey, that`s one thing, and they`re
-- they`re both -- they`re -- this is coming up, but I`ll keep thinking.
KLEIN: When Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens retired in 2010
at the age of 90, the court lost its grand liberal leader. It`s
Republican-appointed liberal leader. You see, Justice Stevens was
appointed by President Ford.
And if you ask legal scholars, he did not become the leader of the
court`s liberal bloc by becoming liberal, by changing his opinions. The
court moved so far right during his tenure that by the end of it, his
moderate Republican philosophy -- was moderate Republican when he was named
to the court -- was a liberal by comparison to everybody else who was
serving with him.
Court watchers have been arguing recently that the Supreme Court is
moving to the right. And they have been documenting the shift literally
for years now. The folks over at "Mother Jones" helpfully did it in chart
form, which is, as you might know, my favorite form.
And here`s a really handy and dramatic one. The red line at the top,
that shows conservative justices becoming more conservative over the years.
That middle line in yellow, that`s moderate justices also becoming more
conservative or the years.
And finally, that blue line at the bottom, that`s liberal justices
becoming more conservative or the years.
And then last week happened. This super conservative court including
the super conservative Chief Justice John Roberts upheld a law that was
incredibly unpopular among conservatives.
And suddenly anything seemed possible. For about 45 seconds, the
court-watching pundit class thought maybe the court hasn`t moved that far
to the right.
Well, today, conservatives from inside the court proved that it has.
Now, you need to know that leaks from the Supreme Court just about never
happen ever. Never, never ever, never ever, ever. It is a notoriously
In fact, my colleague at "Bloomberg View," Steven Carter, was just
writing last week about how amazingly leak proof the Supreme Court is and
how wouldn`t it be better if there were more institutions like the Supreme
Court where people didn`t go around blabbing to the media all the time just
for political gain.
And right on cue, massive blabbing to the media from conservatives
inside the Supreme Court justice. In fact, just about the first thing
conservatives did after the ruling came down was leak to a reporter details
of the decision-making process, breaking the court`s code of silence to
tell CBS News that Chief Justice Roberts initially really did want to
overturn reform, suggesting he might have just bowed to outside pressure
and changing his mind deciding to uphold the law. And revealing that,
quote, "at least one conservative justice tried to get him to explain his
switch but was unsatisfied with the response."
It was the conservatives` way of saying via politically charged leaks,
no, no, we really are that far right. And just so everyone is clear, John
Roberts totally agreed with us on everything and he didn`t want to uphold
the legislation at first, and then he became a giant chicken and he let the
Even in his majority opinion upholding the law, Roberts took
painstaking care to say he agreed with the conservatives on everything
except for a teeny, tiny, very narrow, nearly inconsequentially
technicality on which he decided to uphold it -- the question of whether
it`s a penalty or a tax. But he sided with the conservatives in terms of
the big legal questions, the scope of the Commerce Clause and the
unnecessary and proper powers. He just did about want to strike down
entirely the most sweeping piece of social policy legislation to be enacted
in this country in 40 years.
Now, this should not have been a 5-4 decision that was almost a 4-5.
It should have been 7-2 or 8-1. Before the oral arguments, the poll of
former Supreme Court clerks and lawyers who had argued before the court
found only 35 percent expected the court to strike the mandate down. After
the oral arguments, based on the line of questioning coming from the bench,
it began to look like the law would go down, and there was a feeling in the
professional court-watching community that holy crap, we can`t believer
this is happening. A clearly constitutional law is going to be struck down
based on politics.
Now, a survey of top constitutional law scholars late last month found
that 19 of 21 thought the law was constitutional and should be upheld by
the court -- 19 of 21. But only eight of 21 were confident that it would
be upheld by the court.
All that freaking out before the decision was handed down about how
partisan and political and conservative the court has become, that is still
a totally valid reaction to this court, even after it upheld health care
reform, because the truth is it barely upheld health care reform and it
only upheld it on really narrow grounds. And the court`s conservatives
seem to be arguing by way of catty political leaking that it almost wasn`t
narrowly upheld on 5-4, that it was nearly struck down on a 5-4 vote and it
would have been if John Roberts hadn`t been such a scaredy-cat.
The other thing, by the way, about those conservatives on the court,
they didn`t just want to strike down the mandate, which had been radical in
and of itself. They wanted to overturn the whole law based on the mandate.
So, no more Affordable Care Act entirely, the entire thing goes. The
maximalist option, no judicial restraint -- they were really going for it.
So, the bottom line is that if you were worried about the court before
the health reform ruling, you should be worried about the court today. It
hasn`t changed that much.
Joining us now is Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor of Slate.com.
Dahlia, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
DAHLIA LITHWICK, SLATE.COM: Hi there, Ezra. Thanks for having me.
KLEIN: So, this report that pulls back the curtain on the Supreme
Court`s internal decision making built on leaks, this is pretty rare. Were
you surprised by the fact it came out at all?
LITHWICK: Yes, this was jaw-dropping. I think almost everyone who
reacted to this had the same reaction you did, which is this never, ever,
ever, ever exponentially more ever happens. You know, there`s a big, big
story about the backroom dealings of Bush v. Gore, but it happened four
years later. For it to happen, three days later is truly unprecedented and
as you said, quite extraordinary.
KLEIN: Now, this report is somewhat unique. It`s an op-ed,
necessarily written about in other outlets. The reporter has a wonderful
reputation, but you know the court very well. Did the report ring true to
LITHWICK: It did. And Jan Crawford, who wrote it for CBS, is a
phenomenal reporter. I don`t doubt that what she said is true.
The locution is interesting, Ezra. She has access to, quote,
"sources" with specific knowledge of the deliberations. So the locution is
What rings true rings true. I do have the sense that only part of the
story is being told here, and any story that`s being told by folks who
quite palpably have an ax to grind, one wants to hear what the other side
is. In other words, I think it`s probably likely that Chief Justice John
Roberts assigned himself the opinion immediately after deliberations and
the idea that he just started cooking up this opinion, you know, weeks into
the case, just doesn`t make sense because he didn`t assign himself another
opinion from that sitting.
So I think that he was thinking all along he was either going to write
for himself and the four conservatives or he was going to write something
else. But the notion, as you said, he just chickened out, I don`t think
that`s the whole story.
KLEIN: And there was one thing that I thought was really fascinating
about it, a weird locution as well in Justice Scalia`s -- his dissent. And
they really talk about Roberts in a weird way or they don`t talk about him
really at all. They don`t refer to him in the majority.
And what Crawford reported was that it wasn`t a mistake and it wasn`t
because he flipped at the last minute. It`s because they were so mad at
him they wanted it to appear they stopped engaging. They were no longer --
it was almost, they didn`t think him worthy of debate and they didn`t want
to sign on to the parts they agreed with him. It was kind of a diss from
the four on the right side of the court to Roberts.
LITHWICK: That`s right. And that part also was a head scratcher,
Ezra. You have the opportunity to have five votes to get together and get
behind the chief justice`s Commerce Clause necessarily and proper findings
The idea that you put your hands over your ears and stomp your feet
and say I`m going to deny him this because I`m so darn mad doesn`t sound
quite right. So, I think you`re right. I think there are pieces we`re not
And more fundamentally -- this is the problem, that we`re having this
conversation is the problem, because it is entirely speculative. It does
have the effect of undermining the integrity of the court. We should be
talking about the holding, not about Colonel Mustard in the library with
the lead pipe.
KLEIN: Well, hopefully, we`ll be able to have you back on and see and
we`ll talk more about the holding.
Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at Slate.com -- thank you again for
joining us tonight, and sharing your endless wisdom on the court.
LITHWICK: Thanks, Ezra.
KLEIN: The universe can be divided into two groups. Those that know
what the Higgs boson and care whether humanity is able to locate it, and
those who do not. I will attempt to reconcile those two groups in a
remarkable moment of geek, coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: The Supreme Court of the United States of
America upheld the largest tax increase in American history.
MIKE HUCKABEE, FOX NEWS: The largest tax increase in the history of
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Obamacare is the biggest tax
increase in American history.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK RADIO HOST: What we now have is the biggest tax
increase in the history of the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The biggest tax increase in the history of the
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
KLEIN: You`ve heard the parade of Republicans who`ve been calling the
health reform law some variation of the largest tax increase in the history
of life as we know it and everything in the world and the universe.
Now, while we don`t have the data to rule specifically on the history
of the universe claim, who does -- tonight, in chart imitates life, we can
show you that President Obama`s health reform law is not the biggest tax
increase even in American history. Not even close, really.
The individual mandate which got Republicans started on this whole
kick is a tiny, tiny, tiny part of the health care bill. It`s not -- even
when you`re looking at the tax section, it`s not the biggest or the second
biggest or the third biggest tax increase in the health care bill. Much
less the largest tax increase in the history of the planet earth.
But the health care law does have other taxes in it. It increases
payroll taxes on wealthy Americans. It levies a tax on unusually costly
health insurance plans.
Let`s say you add all of those together. Where does it add up? Well,
here`s the chart. It was drawn up by Austan Frakt, an economist who blogs
at the wonderful Incidental Economist Web site. I have put it on my blog
at "The Washington Post" this morning.
It ranks the 15 biggest tax increases since 1950. Now, counter to the
biggest increases are at the bottom. They`re the long blue lines. The
smaller tax increases are at the top, the shorter blue lines.
So counting up from the bottom, President Obama`s Affordable Care Act
also known as Obamacare, comes in tenth. It is only the tenth biggest tax
increase since 1950 in this one country that we live in. And it`s about
equal in size to President Clinton`s 1993 tax increase.
And oh, here`s something interesting, it`s also about equal in size to
George H.W. Bush`s 1990 tax increase.
And whoa, you know who signed an even bigger tax increase into law,
President Ronald Reagan. His 1982 tax increase was about 40 percent larger
than the Affordable Care Act. Boy, you say Reagan also cut taxes and
indeed he did, he cut them big. Much like Obama did in the stimulus and
then again in 2010 when he extended all of the Bush tax cuts for two years
and added more on top of that.
And like he`s promising to do again in 2012 when he said he would
extend most of the Bush tax cuts permanently.
Now, to be honest with you -- I don`t think this is great. To be
fiscally responsible in the country, we`re going to need to do more than
let the Bush tax cuts for rich Americans expire. We`re going to get
deficits under our control if taxes have to stop being a dirty word and
just become part of budgeting again.
But if we`re going to talk tax increases and tax cuts, we need to have
the numbers straight. The Affordable Care Act is not the largest tax hike
in history, not the largest tax hike in the last 50 years, or 40 years, or
30 years, or even 20 years. And if you count the scheduled expiration in
2010 of the Bush tax cuts as a tax hike, and the Republicans did, it`s not
even the largest tax hike written into law in the last 10 years. And while
it does have some big tax hikes in it, the individual mandate, not one of
HAYES: There is a pretty good chance that if you`re watching this
show tonight from a state like Ohio or Pennsylvania or Iowa or Florida, you
just got done watching this ad during the past commercial break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Running for governor, Mitt Romney campaigned as a job
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know how jobs are created.
NARRATOR: But as a corporate raider, he shipped jobs to China and
Mexico. As governor, he did the same thing, outsourcing state jobs to
India. Now, he`s making the exact same pitch.
ROMNEY: I know why jobs come and why they go.
NARRATOR: Outsourcing jobs, Romney economics. It didn`t work then
and it won`t work now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: That is an ad being run in battle ground states across the
country right now by the Obama campaign.
And there`s a reason the Obama campaign is running that particular ad
and not some other ad. The Obama campaign, more than any campaign that has
ever come before it, prides itself of not just relying on chance or in
tuition when it comes to campaign strategy. No, they rely on cold hard
data. And what that cold hard data was telling them was hit Romney on
At Slate.com, Sasha Isenburg described the analytics process that team
Obama goes through when it comes to campaign advertising.
Quote, "Analysts rely on an extensive ongoing micro-targeting
operation to discern which slivers of the electorate are the most
responsive and to which messages. This cycle of trial and error offers
empirically-minded election ears an upgrade over the current regime of
approaching voters based on hunches.
So, when the Obama campaign crunched all the numbers, they determined
the Bain attack would be the most effective thing they could do. What they
had not counted on though was that it would trigger such a backlash among
Democratic elites, among Democrats who live and fundraise in and around New
York City and Washington, D.C.
These Democrats know private equity guys. They know investors. These
guys are their friends, their funders, their campaign backers. They are
people these Democrats need and want to keep good relationships with.
And so you may remember that about a month and a half ago, there was
this great uproar in the Democratic Party about whether it was wise or not
to attack him on his record at Bain capital. High profile Democrats like
Cory Booker and Ed Rendell began voicing concerns publicly about whether
those Bain attacks were a good idea. That criticism got a lot of media
attention. The media began wondering and reporting about why the Obama
campaign couldn`t get its message right, couldn`t get its allies to agree
But there was always this question: were those Democrats tactically
correct? Because there could be a big difference between what Democratic
elites want to hear and what resonates with actual voters in battleground
And so, team Obama had a genuinely important strategic decision to
make. Do they go with the feedback they were getting from the Democratic
elites on this? Do they back off the Bain attacks? Or do they go with
The Obama campaign pretty decisively decided to double down on their
data and on the attacks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: President Romney`s first 100 days for the people of Iowa,
they mean fewer worries about their future.
NARRATOR: Fewer worries? "The Washington Post" has just revealed
that Romney`s companies were pioneers in shipping U.S. jobs overseas.
Investing in firms that specialized in relocating jobs done by American
workers to new facilities in low-wage countries like China and India.
Does Iowa really want an outsourcer-in-chief in the White House?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: That decision now appears to be paying dividends. In
battleground states across the country, the Bain attacks appear to be
Here`s how the race looked in Florida two months ago. Romney held a
slim one-point lead. Here`s how the race looks in Florida now. It`s
Barack Obama leading there by four points.
Here`s how the race looked in the great state of Ohio two months ago.
President Obama was leading there, too, but by a razor-thin two-point
margin. Since then, the president has blown it open to a nine-point
So, what accounts for the sudden movement in swing states?
Here`s the analysis from ABC`s Rick Klein. Quote, "Over the last two
weeks, even as the national polls have shown little movement in the race,
something different has been happening in the battleground states. In
those states, President Obama has been pulling ahead. The gaps aren`t
huge, but taken together, the numbers strongly suggest the Democrats`
relentless attacks on Mitt Romney`s business record at Bain Capital have
been taking a toll."
The most recent NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows the same
thing. When voters were asked whether Mitt Romney`s record at Bain Capital
makes them feel more positive or more negative about him, 28 percent said
they feel more negative about Mr. Romney after learning about his record at
Bain compared to only 23 percent who felt more positive about him. So,
those numbers not so good for Romney.
But the numbers were much worse among voters in swing states. There,
33 percent said they felt more negative about Mr. Romney after learning
about his record at Bain, compared to only 18 percent who felt more
positive about him.
According to "The New York Times," even Republicans feel the strategy
is working. Quote, "Despite doubts among some Democrats about the wisdom
of attacking Mr. Romney`s business career, Obama commercials painting him
as a ruthless executive who pursued profits at the expense of jobs are
starting to make an impact on some undecided voters, according to
strategists for both sides. Strategists with both parties said independent
voters speaking in focus groups had indicated that they have seen the ads
or heard their charges, that they have raised questions in their minds
about Mr. Romney`s experience."
The Obama campaign had a big decision to make about a month and a half
ago when they faced the elites in their own party. Stick with the Bain
attacks or back off. And they decided to stick with them. So far, at
least, they have been proven right.
Joining us now is my friend and colleague, the host of the aptly
named, the wonderfully named "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY" show, airing weekends
right here on MSNBC. She`s also a professor at Tulane University, and a
columnist for "The Nation".
Melissa Harris-Perry, thank you for being here.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: Hi, Ezra. Always nice to join you.
KLEIN: I`m always struck by how quickly the campaign narratives
shift. I remember, a month ago, all anyone seemed to be talking about or
want to talk about was the strategic incompetence of the Obama campaign.
But then the polls didn`t go down for Obama and now they seem to be going
And now the narrative is that the strategy was kind of brilliant and
now it was working and, in fact, it was a great idea all along.
What`s your takeaway here?
HARRIS-PERRY: Well, everybody loves a winner. Last week was a big
winning week for President Obama and for the Obama administration, even
bracketing the Holder situation. Obviously, the Affordable Care Act
decision on the part of the Supreme Court, you know, just sort of gives
President Obama and the campaign a bit more swagger going into sort of
But I think the other part of it is, do you remember that it was
always sort of the incompetence of the surrogates and in certain ways, that
story, the idea of surrogates not being able to stay on message is not
really all the same thing as whether or not the campaign itself has the
KLEIN: You know, the thing I think people figured was going to
happen, was that the surrogates, they were getting all this media coverage,
and that would somehow filter out. And I was thinking about this today.
This poll came out that showed 41 percent of Americans had no idea the
Supreme Court ruled on health care last week. They just didn`t know. It
didn`t cross their radar. It`s not something that made impression on it.
HARRIS-PERRY: What world do you and I live in?
KLEIN: That`s my concern. It made me think about, you know, is
anybody actually less well-qualified to say what might work or not work
with swing voters than the people who sit in chairs like this one who are
following every little piece and every little movement in the presidential
campaign? Because it doesn`t seem to me, these gaffes, these little
stories that end up obsessing us in Washington actually end up mattering to
ordinary voters at all.
HARRIS-PERRY: Look, I mean, that`s a critically important point. I
mean, obviously, our job is to be filtering the news and trying to think
about all of the small elements that will impact the election. But you
know, folks who are in the swing states, one of the things that is going on
in some of the swing states, is their unemployment rates ,take Virginia for
example, are actually not as bad as the national unemployment rate. So,
kind of hitting President Obama on "are you better off today than you were
four years ago" is not going to work for the Romney campaign in those
states in the way that it will in the much harder hit states.
And conversely, President Obama being able to stay, look, this guy
isn`t going to do for you what I have done, kind of make things better in
your home state. He`s going to make things worse. He`s going to take the
jobs you finally started to see recovery and take them and send them out,
you know, kind of just outsourcing narrative.
But I think the other piece of it is we just have to remember that
it`s still a long way until both the conventions and then ultimately the
fall. I think the real issue isn`t what goes on on television, it`s what
will happen in those head-to-head debates when the two of them are going to
get to make their case and, you know, really sort of stand up in front of
the American people and explain why they think the other guy is no good.
KLEIN: Right, I think it`s always important to remember at this time
in 1992, Bill Clinton was behind both George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot.
That was kind of amazing.
Melissa Harris-Perry, Tulane University professor, host of the
"MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY" show airing weekends from 10:00 to noon Eastern Time
right here on MSNBC -- thank you for being here.
HARRIS-PERRY: Thanks, Ezra.
KLEIN: One downside to being a rock star -- it turns out that there
is a downside to being a rock star -- is they can`t choose their fans. For
every Bruce Springsteen, there are thousands of Chris Christies. Who is
really the boss in New Jersey? Next.
KLEIN: On Friday, the show reported the state of Mississippi was on
the verge of effectively banning abortion by way of a new law about to shut
down the only clinic in the entire state. The law added regulations for
the one clinic that other types of clinics do not have to follow. In
particular, the law required doctors at the clinic to have admitting
privileges to a hospital. The owner of the clinic told us her doctors have
applied for those privileges with five hospitals in a 30-mile radius, but
not one has said yes.
With the law taking effect on Sunday, the clinic faced a choice of
either shutting down or breaking the law, unless the federal court stepped
in. Last night, only hours before the clinic was supposed to open this
morning, a federal judge blocked the law. The judge issued a temporary
restraining order. It lasts until July 11th when they hear arguments for a
He wrote, quote, "Plaintiff has offered evidence, including quotes
from significant legislative and executive officers, that the act`s purpose
is to eliminate abortions in Mississippi. They likewise submitted evidence
that not safety or health concerns motivated its passage. This evidence
has not yet been rebutted."
Evidence about the intent of the law and a lack of concern for health
and safety might be hard to rebut because it is on videotape. >
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. PHIL BRYANT (R), MISSISSIPPI: We`re going to continue to try to
work to end abortion in Mississippi, and this is an historic day to begin
TATE REEVES, MISSISSIPPI LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Our goal needs to be to
end all abortions in Mississippi. I believe the admitting privileges bill
gives us the best chance to do that.
STATE REP. BUBBA CARPENTER (R), MISSISSIPPI: We have literally
stopped abortions in the state of Mississippi. And, of course, there you
have the other side, they`re like well, the poor pitiful women can`t afford
to go out of state are just going to doing it at home with a coat hanger.
That`s what we heard over and over and over. But, hey, you have to
have moral values. You have to start somewhere, and that`s what we`ve
decided to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: You have to start somewhere. The federal court decided that
Roe versus Wade still applies in Mississippi, at least for now.
HAYES: It`s hot outside on the East Coast. It`s really hot,
actually. You could understand people being a little short tempered.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, you could more or less set your
watch by it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: On Monday, are you going to be addressing the legislature?
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Did I say on topic? Are you
stupid? On topic, on topic.
Good. Thank you, thank you, thank you all very much and I`m sorry for
the idiot over there. Take care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: For those of you keeping track at home, that was Republican
Governor Chris Christie`s umpteenth public fit since taking office.
YouTube is peppered with the New Jersey governor telling people off,
calling them idiots, informing them that he is the governor and they can
shut up while he talks. He`s gone after teachers like that. He`s gone
teachers like that. He`s gone after a student like that, a policeman.
It`s also very macho and brusque and Christie loves doing it, and his
supporters love watching it.
Now, this is Christie`s other great love, Bruce Springsteen, the Boss,
the bard (ph) of New jersey, the self-style dirt farmer of the Garden
State. From his early days as a Republican contender, Governor Christie`s
love of Springsteen has been a way of showing that he, Chris Christie, is
just like the rest of yous, with dozens and dozens and dozens of
Springsteen ticket stubs to prove it.
When the press reported that Chris Christie appeared to be asleep at
Springsteen concern this year, the governor responded he`s by no means
asleep. He was meditating on the deep the meaning of Springsteen`s music.
You know what, I believe that. Christie is a true Springsteen fan.
He probably was meditating on it.
But the sad part, the part with pathos in it is that Christie does
love Springsteen an awful lot, but Springsteen does not love Christie back.
Jeffrey Goldberg writes about it in this month`s "Atlantic." Quote,
"Despite heroic efforts by Christie, Springsteen, who is still a New Jersey
resident, will not talk to him, at concerts, even concerts at club-sized
venues, Springsteen won`t acknowledge the governor. When Christie leaves a
Springsteen concert in a large arena, his state trooper move him to his
motorcade through loading docks. He walks within feet of the stage and of
the dressing rooms. He`s never been invited in to say hello."
So sad Chris Christie. This spring, Christie begged Bruce to meet him
in Atlantic City. He`s begging Springsteen to come play there to celebrate
the opening of a new casino.
Tell me this sounds like anything other than kind of injure-begging
with an overlay of rationalizing and bargaining.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: I would make a direct plea to Bruce right now, I think, you
know, he`s missed out on the opportunity to open this place, because
Beyonce has picked up the mantle on that. But I really think, you know,
when he gets off of the summer part of his tour, he doesn`t have anything
announced yet for Labor Day weekend. I think Labor Day weekend at Revel
for Bruce Springsteen would be an incredible show of support by Bruce for
his home state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KLEIN: Bruce Springsteen is not listening to Governor Christie. And
for all that Governor Christie tries to guilt trip his unrequited love and
say the Boss should play at Atlantic City for the middle class, for all
that Springsteen`s rejection is grounded in Mr. Christie`s politics.
Springsteen`s hero is a person who says the first kick he took was
when he took the ground and he ends up like a dog that`s been beat too
much, until he spends half of his life just covering up. Springsteen gave
us the world, "Born in the USA, and also "The Streets of Philadelphia," a
theme for a movie about a man dying of AIDS.
Springsteen has been calling for New Jersey to legalize marriage
equality for years now. And when the legislature finally voted to do that,
Christie vetoed it and said the state should hold a referendum instead.
Last year, Christie stripped union rights and cut the benefits of state
And last week, Governor Christie cut tax credits for the working poor
along with aid to cities and schools and health care.
Bruce Springsteen is not the guy who is impressed with the guy who
berates teachers and students and reporters and policemen at town halls.
Using your power to bravely stand up to the little guy is not really a
major Springsteen theme.
So, no, Governor Christie, Mr. Springsteen seems unlikely to go down
to the river with you, or the shore, or raise a sha, la, la for your cause.
But if you see the ghost of old Tom Joy around the governor`s mansion,
perhaps you`d get his autograph. It`s worth asking.
KLEIN: Here`s a joke. A Higgs boson works into a Catholic Church.
The priest says, we don`t allow Higgs boson in here. The Higgs boson says,
without me, how can you have mass?
Get it? The Higgs boson says, without me, how can you have -- get it?
The joke there is a play on the two different meanings of mass.
That`s a bad way to start this.
Let`s start over. Right now physicists are trying to explain the
universe by using what is called the standard model. This equation is a
standard model. You can learn more about it on an invaluable YouTube
channel called Minute Physics. But because fist physicists work with
teeny, tiny, itty-bitty, really hard to see stuff, like sub-atomic
particles, it`s kind of tough to verify their ideas.
Most of us stop in high school with the electron, the proton and the
neutron, which are found in atoms. Maybe some of you went on to learn
about quarks, which have the best name of all the particles.
But there are lots more of the teeny, tiny, itty-bitty thing out there
and they can only be predicted by math. This is how physics works now.
Physicists come up with equations that seem to describe the way we know the
world works, and then inside those equations, we learn about the parts of
the world that we didn`t know were there and how they work, and then we
hope that some day, some future group of humans with machinery more
impressive than what we have will be able to check whether we were right.
In 1964, a physicist by the name of Peter Higgs came up with the idea
that there was a kind of cosmic molasses in the universe that we, of
course, cannot see, but it helps matter stick together to form things like
atoms. How it does that, theoretically, makes for terrible television, so
I`m not going to tell you. If you want to know more, we`ll put links on
the Web site.
But the particle they`re interested in for proving that is called the
Higgs boson, which also has a fancy nickname, the "God particle". Some
physicists however call it the goddamn particle, because as they say, it is
so goddamned hard to find.
But time past, our machines got better and now scientists are trying
to recreate the conditions that existed right after the Big Bang. And they
are doing it in a giant particle collider underneath the Alps, between
France and Switzerland. It sounds like an evil villain plot.
And they are doing it by sending teeny tiny, itty-bitty particles
whizzing along 17 miles of magnetic track until they crash with each other,
at close to the speed of, breaking up into even ittier and bittier
Scientists are producing millions of collisions a second and analyzing
crazy amounts of data for evidence that the Higgs boson is alive and well
and doing what it is theorized to do. This Wednesday, scientists heading
the two biggest hunt for the Higgs boson are going to present their latest
findings, and today, word is leaking out in every corner of the Internet
where people care about the hunt for Higgs boson that they are going to say
that they have found it, or at least they found something that could be it.
So while for most of us, the Fourth of July means fireworks, for a
physicist and their physics friendly, the fun will be oohing and awing over
a very different kind of spark.
That does it for us tonight. You can check out my work at
Wonkblog.com at "The Washington Post" or follow me on Twitter at
Twitter.com/EzraKlein, and on Facebook, Facebook.com/EzraKlein.
Now it is time for "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Have a
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