Guests: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, TJ Holmes, Emily Tischa Sussman, Jon
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, GUEST HOST: Good evening, Americans. Welcome to
THE ED SHOW. I`m Michael Eric Dyson, in for Ed Schultz.
Mitt Romney`s overseas misadventures continue. He traveled to Israel
to win over Jewish voters but only managed to court criticism for his
comments about their economy. We`ll have all the details.
This is THE ED SHOW -- and as Ed would say -- let`s go to work.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As someone who spent most
of his life in business, I`m particularly impressed with Israel`s cutting
edge technologies and thriving economy.
DYSON (voice-over): Mitt Romney thinks Israel`s bustling economy is
based on culture and the hand of providence.
ROMNEY: You export technology, not tyranny or terrorism.
DYSON: DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz will weigh in on Mitt`s
shocking lack of foreign policy knowledge.
DICK CHENEY, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I don`t think she passed
REPORTER: Of being ready?
CHENEY: Of being ready to take over.
DYSON: Dick Cheney speaks the truth about Sarah Palin and sparks a
family feud with his daughter.
CHENEY: I think that was a mistake.
DYSON: Liz says Palin`s more qualified than President Obama. We`ll
see if MSNBC`s Jonathan Alter agrees.
Bill Clinton is set to play a major role at this year`s Democratic
National Convention. Meanwhile, the GOP is running away from Bush and
Cheney. E.J. Dionne of has the latest.
DYSON: Governor Mitt Romney`s European misadventure is now 0 for 2.
After insulting Britain, he tried to praise Israel but it backfired.
Instead of looking like a president in waiting, Romney has come off as
diplomatically tone-deaf at best.
Romney`s latest mess happened at a fund-raiser in Jerusalem.
Initially, the Romney campaign wasn`t going to allow reporters. After
criticism, it reversed its position, no doubt with great regret. In front
of a group of wealthy donors including billionaire Sheldon Adelson, Romney
pointed to the cultural superiority of Israel over the Palestinians.
"As you come here and see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel
which is about $21,000, and compare that with the GDP per capita just
across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like
$10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in
economic vitality. And as I come here and I look out over this city and
consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the
power of at least culture and a few other things."
Yes, a few other things just might account for the GDP difference.
The Palestinian president`s reaction to Romney was swift and severe through
his senior aide Saeb Erekat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAEB EREKAT, SENIOR AIDE PALESTINIAN PRES. MAHMOUD ABBAS: Mr. Romney
takes another step forward with his racist statement, saying that it`s
because of the Israeli culture is better than the Palestinian culture.
Look, Palestinians and Israelis may be in a conflict, but Palestinians and
Israelis are people, equal. And such racist statement does not serve those
who are trying to protect and save lives in this region.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Mr. Erekat also said, "This man doesn`t realize that the
Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli
occupation. He also lacks knowledge about the Israelis themselves. I have
not heard any Israeli official speak about cultural superiority."
The criticism came from both sides. A political science professor in
Tel Aviv suggested Romney`s comment could be seen as anti-Semitic. "You
can understand this remark in several ways. You can say it`s anti-Semitic,
Jews, and money."
Romney camp spokeswoman Andrea Saul said, "His comments were grossly
By the way, Romney didn`t even get his facts straight. The income
disparity between Israel and Palestine is even greater.
But Romney and his campaign made other far bigger mistakes. Romney`s
top foreign policy adviser Dan Senor suggested that Romney would support a
unilateral Israeli military strike against Iran. Three hours later, Mr.
Senor tried to clarify his remarks. "In the final analysis, of course, no
options should be excluded."
Romney created yet another failure of diplomatic skill when he
canceled a meeting with Israel`s labor party at the last minute. Hard to
imagine how many of this will help Romney back home.
And his support from Jewish voters is already poor. The latest
Gallup survey of Jewish voters shows President Obama beating Romney 68 to
Get your cell phones out. I want to know what you think. Tonight`s
question, can Mitt Romney go anywhere without offending people? Text A for
yes, text B for yes -- OK, text B for no to 622639, or go to our blog at
Ed.MSNBC.com. I`ll bring you the results later in the show.
I`m joined by Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair
of the Democratic National Committee.
Congresswoman, welcome to the show.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Thank you so much.
Great to be with you.
DYSON: Did Mitt Romney do any good by suggesting a kind of cultural
superiority over Israel -- of Israel over the Palestinians, bringing in a
kind of ethnic specificity to the debate here? Isn`t that treading on
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I think what happened here, Michael, is
that when you are a candidate for president and you`re taking a foreign
trip, the idea is that you are supposed to come back at least leaving the
impression that you are ready to be the commander in chief and the chief
diplomat of the United States of America. So the first rule of a foreign
trip like this should be first, do no harm. Mitt Romney went over to Great
Britain and to Israel, and essentially was like a bull in a China shop.
What was amazing to me was that particularly in a sensitive region
like the Middle East, and Israel and the West Bank in particular, to not be
careful about the way he chose his words, and to risk potentially setting
back the process in which we hopefully will be able to get both sides, the
Palestinians and Israelis back to the table for direct bilateral
negotiations, that really is damaging and potentially harmful to that goal.
So I think it`s been an unmitigated disaster so far.
DYSON: Sure, you cited the Hippocratic Oath for politicians, as
well. First, do no harm.
But, secondly, make no fool. And it seems he`s been intent upon
You mentioned already the dispute between the Israelis and the
Palestinians. He had nothing to say about that. Wasn`t that remarkably
depressing for a leader who shows ostensible commitment to being the leader
of the free world and bringing peace in that region?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, let`s just compare then-candidate Obama`s
trip to Israel and his overseas trip when he ran for president. President
Obama went to Israel as a candidate. And what (AUDIO GAP) Israel to
Sderot, and met with the families and victims of rocket attacks that were
being launched into Israel from their neighbors, and not very friendly
neighbors at that.
And that trip informed his policies as president which is why
President Obama has stepped up to the plate repeatedly and authorized and
pushed through funding for the Iron Dome missile defense system. And on
Friday in the Oval Office, signed the U.S. Israel Enhanced Security Act
which adds more funding and more batteries for Iron Dome missile defense
deployments around the perimeter of Israel, because he saw first hand the
impact of those, and the harm of those rockets attacks, and knew that the
United States had to stand by Israel`s side.
That is what a trip as a candidate for president should do, inform
your policies as president. What Mitt Romney seems to be doing is
basically throwing in a few meetings to basically dress up the fact that he
wanted to raise some money over there.
That`s a really cynical approach to a foreign policy trip. You know,
basically, that`s disguised -- a fund-raiser disguised as a foreign policy
DYSON: Well, let`s piggyback on what you said. And in fact,
Israel`s deputy foreign minister, Ehud Barak, said today that President
Obama`s administration has been extraordinarily supportive.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Absolutely. He`s repeatedly said that, as has
Prime Minister Netanyahu and the unanimity among Israel`s leaders that
President Obama has been a strong friend of Israel and that Israel has no
greater friend than President Obama.
So the other problem Romney has is his considerable inability to
articulate a clear message. His chief foreign policy aide suggested
support for unilateral strike by Israel against Iran. Then, three hours
later, had to walk it back.
Are they simply in over their heads, Congresswoman?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: They really seem to be in over their heads. They
really have not been able to articulate any foreign policy position on
And Iran sanctions, Mitt Romney has absolutely actually agreed with
President Obama. President Obama has always said that all options are on
the table and all options means all options. But that we need to use
diplomacy and the most biting sanctions he has pushed through as president
both internationally and domestically to make sure we do everything we can
before you go to a military option.
If Mitt Romney thinks we should be pursuing a military option against
Iran, he should come out and say it. But you know, to dance around it and
to essentially pretend that he has somehow a different policy than Barack
Obama is simply ridiculous and continues the distortions and the lies that
Mitt Romney and his campaign and his supporters have engaged in.
Barack Obama has unequivocally said not only will we do everything we
can as a nation to insure that Iran never achieves its nuclear ambition,
but that we do not have a policy of containment, all options are on the
table. And President Obama both internationally and domestically has
insured that Iran is suffering under the most biting economic sanctions
ever, and has brought our fellow nations like Russia and China, who
previously have not been -- we have not been able to bring them to the
table, to support those biting sanctions at the U.N. That`s because Barack
Obama on the world stage has reestablished the United States diplomatic
relationships that were pretty decimated after the Iraq war.
Mitt Romney seems on his way to being hell-bent on doing that just as
a presidential candidate, on setting us back. And it`s unacceptable. He
should just come back to the United States and stay here because his trip
has not done us any favors.
DYSON: Well, of course, it`s not just Israel. Last week, it was
Romney`s British misadventure, insulting the British in their own country.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Right.
DYSON: And when you step back and look at this, has the trip
accomplished anything for his presidential aspirations we can count up and
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I think trips like these are important because it
shows American voters whether or not the candidate actually has the policy
chops, the diplomatic skills, the experience, and the ability to actually
be the world leader that the president of the United States is expected to
be. And Mitt Romney has proven with this trip that he absolutely is not
ready. Not ready for primetime. It`s really been amateur hour,
But I guess that helps us inform voters as they make that very
important decision over who has the ability to be our commander-in-chief.
President Obama has been the chief diplomat, the commander-in-chief for the
last almost four years and has really done America proud on the world
stage, has strong foreign policy credentials and accomplishments and the
alternative, Mitt Romney, has shown us would be problematic for the United
DYSON: All right. Well, thank you for giving us the political low
down on (INAUDIBLE) whether or not he`s ready for primetime.
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, thank you for your time.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you, Michael.
DYSON: Remember to answer tonight`s question there at the bottom of
the screen and share your thoughts on Twitter @EdShow and on Facebook. I
want to know what you think.
Coming up, the Cheney family is a house divided, and Sarah Palin is
the culprit. Jonathan Alter joins me to explain why the Sarah Palin effect
is still rocking the Republican Party.
DYSON: Coming up, Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz disagree over
Sarah Palin`s qualifications. Jonathan Alter will weigh on the Cheney
family feud, next.
Former President Bill Clinton will get a prime spot at the Democratic
National Convention, but Republicans aren`t willing to embrace the Bush
years. We`ll have the details.
And a prominent black journalist tweets his run-in with police. He
said he was pulled over for driving while black. T.J. Holmes joins me to
discuss the incident and race relations in America.
Share your thoughts with us on Facebook and on Twitter using the
We`ll be right back.
DYSON: If you`re wondering whether the GOP is still enthralled to
the Tea Party and other fringe conservative elements, look no further than
Dick Cheney`s interview with ABC News. The former vice president was asked
about the V.P. selection process and noted that John McCain`s selection of
Sarah Palin was not well-handled.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: I like Governor Palin. I have met her, I know her. She`s
an attractive candidate. But based on her background, she had only been a
governor for two years. I don`t think she passed that test.
REPORTER: Of being ready?
CHENEY: Of being ready to take over. And I think that was a
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: It was only a few hours later when Cheney`s own daughter Liz
had to smooth over her father`s rough remarks. She tweeted, "Rarely do I
disagree with best V.P. ever, but Sarah Palin was more qualified than Obama
and Biden combined. Huge respect for all she`s done for the GOP."
Liz Cheney needs the Palin constituency on her side if she runs for
elected office. Hence the rapid smack down of her dad.
Senator John McCain was also quick to dismiss Cheney the elder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I`m always glad to get comments four
years later. Look, I respect the vice president. He and I had strong
disagreements as to whether we should torture people or not. I don`t think
we should have.
But the fact is that I`m proud of Sarah Palin. I`m proud of the job
she did. I`m proud of the job she continues to do.
And so, everybody has their own views, and I respect those views, but
I`m proud of what we did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Who says the Republicans can`t make ample and liberal use of
the retroactivity that Romney has so recently accessed, going back four
years and talking about stuff. And Mr. McCain getting back at Cheney for
torture. "We,": he said being the key word. "John McCain`s entire legacy
is forever linked to Sarah Palin and he needs to play nice if he wants
continued support from the party`s far right wing."
Let`s turn to Jonathan Alter, MSNBC political analyst and columnist
for "Bloomberg View."
Jonathan, are Republican candidates still afraid of the power wielded
by the Tea Party wing? It seems they`re still a bit shaky about them and
JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No question about that.
But this was Cheney family business. Liz Cheney lives in Virginia, but she
wants to run for the U.S. Senate from Wyoming. And there are a lot of Tea
Party folks and a lot of Palin supporters in Wyoming. So she`s just
looking out for her own future.
But it`s true that in a number of different states, the Tea Party is
very important to Mitt Romney getting elected. So take a state like Iowa.
They basically have nothing going on the ground there, except for
evangelicals and Tea Party folks. So that`s one of the reasons you have
not seen Mitt Romney move to the center, you have not seen his people
saying critical things about Sarah Palin or the Tea Party.
They`re going to have a very fine line to walk on this at their
convention because they`re not given Palin a big role.
DYSON: I was going to ask you, Jonathan. If she`s that important,
why not give her a bigger role or at least a role at all to play before the
cameras so that she can secure that particular element of the party.
ALTER: Because they`re worried about what Pat Buchanan did to the
Republican Party at the 1992 Republican convention where he got up and gave
this very extreme speech and it really hurt George H.W. Bush get re-elected
So Sarah Palin is not very popular in this country, especially with
certain constituencies that they`re trying to woo. Mitt Romney is in
Israel right now trying to get Jewish votes in the United States. Obama
got 78 percent of Jews the last time, in large part because Sarah Palin was
on the ticket. So if he wants those Jewish votes in Ohio and Florida, Mitt
Romney wants to move away from Sarah Palin.
On the other hand, if he moves too far away, he alienates the Palin
supporters in states like Iowa he`s going to need for his base.
ALTER: He`s in a tough spot on Palin.
DYSON: Very, very difficult spot there.
Does Liz Cheney do damage to her credibility saying Sarah Palin is
more qualified than Barack Obama and Joe Biden combined? I don`t know many
Republicans who are honestly going to say that?
ALTER: That was a little over the top. She was trying to clean up
for the old man and she had to show her loyalty to Sarah Palin and the Tea
Party folks. They should not be underestimated. You know, the most vivid
demonstration of the power of the Tea Party was at the Utah state party
convention in 2010 when they took Bob Bennett, the son of a president of
the Mormon Church, a very, very conservative Republican senator who had
been in the senate for 20 years, and they threw him out on his ear, ended
his political clear.
You know what his sin was, Michael? He talked to a Democrat.
Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat, they worked together on a piece of quite
conservative health care legislation. And the price that he paid for that
was the end of his political career. That`s how powerful the Tea Party is
in Republican primaries and in get out the vote efforts with the rank and
So this will be a continuing problem for Mitt Romney going forward.
He is their prisoner and he would be as president, too. He would not be
able to move far away from their agenda as president.
DYSON: That`s a big dilemma. When it comes to picking the vice
president, Dick Cheney told the news there`s two lists that are considered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: It`s easy to get on the big list. The tough part is the
small list, under active consideration, and the test to get on the small
list has to be, is this person capable of being president of the United
States? That`s usually a very, very short list.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Well, Jonathan, Dick Cheney ought to know he chose himself
off the short list.
Do you think Romney is heeding the advisory? Is there any chance he
would like to pick another game changing pick like Sarah Palin?
ALTER: Well, it`s not going to be like Sarah Palin, but most people
think that Romney will go with a safe pick. Everybody always cites the
last war in politics. So, that would argue for a Rob Portman or Tim
Pawlenty, Bob McConnell, the governor of Virginia, somebody safe like that.
There could be something unusual that happens. You could get maybe a
Bobby Jindal, who has got some experience now. He`s been governor of
Louisiana for a while. So to try to go for an out of the box choice who
would also pass the test of getting over the threshold of being a plausible
president, which Palin`s two years as governor did not get her, and also
she just wasn`t as smart as Jindal. So, they could go that direction.
Oftentimes, it`s not the person that the press most speculates about.
There`s a long history of this in both parties. Folks at Intrade should
get pretty skeptical of anyone who thinks they know exactly how this is
going to go. But you would have to give an edge right now to a
conservative choice in both meanings of that word, you know, political
conservative and also a safe choice.
DYSON: Well, we thank you for your moderate views on those
Jonathan Alter, thank you so much for joining us.
ALTER: Thanks, Michael.
DYSON: Next, Bill Clinton will play a key role at the Democratic
convention. E.J. Dionne will weigh in on that and much more.
Plus, playing dumb. Mitt Romney gives an interesting new excuse on
why he won`t reveal his tax rate. The panel weighs in on his newest non-
answer when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Ladies and gentlemen, I am
honored to be here tonight. Sit down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: He`s back. That was former President Bill Clinton working
the crowd at the 2008 Democratic National Convention as only still Bill can
-- to borrow the moniker from Bill Withers.
Democrats announced today that Clinton will play an even bigger role
at this year`s convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. He will formally
nominate Barack Obama for the Democratic ticket and make the case for a
second Obama term.
The former president is expected to argue for the current president`s
economic policies, offering a clear contrast between the Obama plan and the
Romney one. Or as Bill Clinton puts it, Bush on steroids.
With a 66 percent approval rating, the Democrats know the guy who
felt our pain -- I feel your pain -- is the best person to appeal to
Meanwhile, the Republicans are running away from their last
president. Neither George W. Bush or Dick Cheney will be attending the
Republican convention in Tampa. Which is odd considering Romney`s economic
advisers were Bush`s economic advisers.
And according to at least one Republican official, Romney`s policies
are Bush`s policies, just updated. Come to think of it, Romney rarely
invokes the good old days of the Bush administration, even when he`s asked
to specifically explain how his policies differ from the former
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS: The major planks of your job plan, lower
taxes, both corporate and marginal rates and reduce regulation, explain how
that would be different from what George W. Bush tried to push through.
ROMNEY: My policies are different than anything you have seen in the
past. They`re really designed for an America which has some new resources,
energy being one of them, trade with Latin America being another, and the
need for a balanced budget now more urgent than ever before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: You get the feeling that Romney needs to listen to Beyonce, say my
name, say my name. George W. Bush, say my name.
I`m joined by E.J. Dionne, MSNBC contributor, Washington Post columnist and
author of the book "our divided political heart." I figured though,
Beyonce was one of your favorites E.J. so I threw her in there.
E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thank you. And I just want
you to know, I feel your pain, too, Michael. I really do.
DYSON: Thank you, E.J. Bill Clinton is given a marquee primetime role at
the party`s convention. That`s a no-brainer for many. George W. Bush
endorsed Romney in an elevator. Will this be a tale of two conventions?
DIONNE: Well, it is surely a tale of two presidencies. I mean, when you
think about it, in the 16 years before Barack Obama took office, we had two
presidents, and yes you ask the question, which one is very popular. You
showed the 66 percent. Which one had his term end in prosperity, not
economic collapse, and which one balanced the budget? The answer is
So, it`s not surprising that Democrats pull Clinton out and I guess the
Republicans want President Bush to cut some more brush down on his ranch in
Texas. But I think what`s really interesting here is how prominent a role
the Obama team decided to give bill Clinton. And I for one think this is a
very shrewd move politically because Bill Clinton can reach precisely the
voters that Barack Obama is having some trouble reaching particularly white
working class voters.
If Romney doesn`t have a margin around 25 percent in this group, he`s in
trouble. If Obama can only lose that group by 15 percent, he`s in good
shape. Bill Clinton can reach those voters.
And the second thing is, that whose tax rates is Barack Obama trying to
restore? He`s trying to restore the Clinton rates. Who can make a better
case for Clinton economics than Bill Clinton himself? And that`s the other
constituency. Upper middle class people who may not want to pay those
Clinton rates sure have some pretty fond memories of the economy in the
DYSON: I mean, whatever you said about him, at least your pocketbook was
in good shape and the bottom line was being observed. Clinton as economic
messenger, very effective or very, very effective?
DIONNE: I think the second. I mean, Bill Clinton had something in common
with Ronald Reagan. The two of them both knew how to make an argument. I
think a lot of times we underestimate how important it is for a politician
to make an argument to the voters and keep making it. Here`s why I`m doing
what I`m doing. Here`s why it makes sense. Here`s why what the other guy
wants to do doesn`t make sense.
Bill Clinton is one of the best people we have in politics. And even
though I didn`t agree with him, Ronald Reagan was good at doing that, too.
So, why not haul out your best argument maker? I think that`s what they`re
doing here, too.
DYSON: Well, they`re political sermonizers right? What do they say about
sermons? You tell them what they`re going to tell them, then you tell
them, then you tell them what you told them. So, it seems to me Bill
Clinton is an expert at that. Four years ago, Obama was out invoking
Ronald Reagan as you say, speaking of someone to give that speech, but what
does this full embrace of Clinton tell us about a subtle or not so subtle
shift in Obama`s ideological universe itself?
DIONNE: Well, you know, a lot of people look at it that way. I think
Obama`s always been fairly close to Clinton. I interviewed him back in
2007, and he went out of his way, and maybe some of it was tactical because
he was running against Hillary Clinton, but he went out of his way to say
that Bill Clinton shifted the Democratic Party in the right direction in
important ways. And when you look at his economic team, this was Clinton`s
economic team. When you look at his foreign policy team, a lot of the
folks in that foreign policy team were Bill Clinton people.
So, I have never seen the big ideological gulf that some people see between
Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. The Obama campaign in the primaries in `08
probably wanted to make it look a little bigger because he was run against
Hillary Clinton at times, particularly on the Iraq war, but I think these
guys are very close in their view of the world.
DYSON: Yes, no doubt about it. But we`ll see how close in the convention
E.J. Dionne, thank you so much.
DIONNE: Great to be with you.
DYSON: There is a lot more coming up on the next half hour of "the Ed
Show." Stay tuned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Was there ever any year when you paid lower
than the 13.9 percent?
ROMNEY: I haven`t calculated that.
DYSON: Mitt Romney can`t answer a very simple yes or no question.
Up next, our panel will weigh in on Romney`s best non-answer yet.
ROMNEY: I don`t pay more than are legally due. And frankly, if I had paid
more than are legally due, I wouldn`t be qualified to become president.
DYSON: In tonight`s Dyson-ary, I`ll define the world obfuscate through the
candidacy of Romney.
And journalist T.J. Holmes tweeted he was pulled over for driving while
Tonight, Holmes will weigh in on the race relations debate in America and
President Obama`s role.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Welcome back. Mitt Romney was asked a very simple yes or no
question about his taxes this weekend. The question, was there ever a year
when you paid less than 13.9 percent?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I haven`t calculated that. I`m happy to go back and look, but my
view is I have paid all the taxes required by law. I don`t pay more than
are legally due.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Isn`t got a calculator that big. So, Romney has endured weeks of
pressure about his taxes on every network and in every major newspaper.
Everyone from President Obama to George Will has weighed in. But Romney
says he just hasn`t had the time to check his tax rate.
Let`s bring in Joy-Ann Reid, managing editor of the Grio, New Jersey
Republican assembly leader Jon Bramnick, and Emily Tisch Sussman, executive
director of the Young Democrats of America.
Jon -- Mr. Bramnick, I got to ask you. Are we really supposed to believe
that Romney hasn`t had time to check his tax rate?
JON BRAMNICK (R-NJ), ASSEMBLY LEADER: Well, if the issue is a tax rate,
President Obama only paid 20 percent as an effective tax rate in 2011 and
26 percent in 2010.
DYSON: But he knows what he paid. He can answer when asked did he pay the
BRAMNICK: Of course, I have no problem with the fact that Romney is
successful. And if that`s the criticism, that`s exactly what we want in
America, people who are successful. So the fact that he doesn`t give you
an exact number, do we want to stop charitable deductions? That`s one way
to lower your tax rate. What is wrong with following the law and paying
what is legally responsible?
DYSON: But when ask the question, did you pay a rate or not. We`re not
asking for all that. You`re giving great detail, but Romney has not
answered the simple question, did you or didn`t you?
Joy-Ann Reid, do you think there`s a problem going on. Didn`t Romney have
to calculate his rate when he filed his returns?
JOY-ANN REID, MANAGING EDITOR, THEGRIO.COM: No. You know what? What I
focused on - one of the things that I focused on in that interview that I
found kind of strange is, that he was ask further, you know, sort of more
probing questions about this, he said well, you know, the accounting firm
that does my taxes. Most people I know will say the accountant, the guy,
the turbo tax that does my taxes. He`s got an entire accounting firm that
does his taxes. So, maybe the reason he doesn`t know is that Romney is so
rich. He has like eight degrees of separation from the recording of taxes.
DYSON: It takes a village.
REID: And a firm.
DYSON: He`s got an African ideology going on there. Ms. Sussman, Romney
says, he doesn`t know his tax rate, but he knows he pays a lot. Listen to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: The tax rate paid year by year, I know that I pay a very
substantial amount of taxes. In every year since the beginning of my
career so far as I can recall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: So Romney paid a substantial amount, but it could be less than most
middle class Americans, right?
EMILY TISCH SUSSMAN, YOUNG DEMOCRATS OF AMERICA: Sure. I mean, you know,
a substantial amount, as the law requires. Let`s just end all of this
dancing around and release your tax returns. One year is absolutely not
going to cut it.
I mean, young people as so many Americans are really looking for two
things. Authenticity and to be spoken to like you respect them. And by
Mitt Romney refusing to release the years of returns for fear that people
are going to look through them and question them, you`re really not acting
like you respect people. I think people see through this.
DYSON: Mr. Bramnick, you understand this. You`re a politician. You have
the trust of the people at heart. Don`t you get the fact that Romney won`t
answer or refusal to answer goes to the issue of trust and respect and
BRAMNICK: Even if he releases the tax returns, I assume you`re going to
pick it apart anyway. So at this point, what he`s saying is I have done
what is really required. If people want to pay more than legally required,
the president could pay another 10 percent and follow the Buffett rule. He
could ante up some more money. There`s options for everyone who wants to
pay more that is not legally required.
DYSON: But Joy-Ann, if you got nothing to hide, what are you hiding for?
REID: Exactly. And the this is this goes back to what Romney has
consistently done which is try to run for president by telling Americans as
little about himself as possible. He won`t talk about his governorship of
Massachusetts. He doesn`t want to talk about Bain. He essentially wants
to be the unknown brand exit that somehow get into the White House.
But what he doesn`t understand is that the American people want to know
what it is they`re voting for and who it is they`re voting for. And by him
obfuscating everything about himself, he really leaves nothing positive for
people to look for on the ballot in November.
DYSON: So, you didn`t even set that up, but we`re going to talk in my
first Dyson-ary, the word obfuscation and you game me a brilliant set-up
Miss Sussman, you made an interesting point here about the politics of
respect. Do you think that plays a big role in how young people decide who
is able to cast their ballot for?
SUSSMAN: Absolutely. I mean, if you look at a president who has, you
know, grown up understanding the issue that so many people are facing
today, and you look at a man who is running who really does not act like he
respects young people.
You know, speaking to college students in Ohio, he did a big major flip-
flop a couple weeks ago when the Stafford student rates were looking to
double. You know, first he says, you know, young people, you can have as
much school as you can pay for. When a young person ask how to pay for it,
they say, ask your parents. And then suddenly flip-flops as he always does
and says, oh, no, I definitely support the rates not doubling.
I mean, that is just not showing respect. It`s not showing the respect
that you understand the experience of young people in America today.
DYSON: Well, speaking of disrespect, I want to ask Mr. Bramnick, how do
you think the adventure of Mitt Romney overseas is going right o percent
BRAMNICK: I think people respect his success as a businessman. His strong
support for Israel. His success in running the Olympics. I think they
understand this is someone who knows how to get a job done.
DYSON: What about as a diplomat, though? As a diplomat representing the
interests and values of America?
BRAMNICK: Well, I think if you blow up small little statements in the
media`s good at that, you could take any comment by any president or
candidate and make it into international issue. I don`t think it is an
international issue, but people like to make it an international issue.
DYSON: But, do you think they`re detonating the bomb or is he a suicide
bomber rhetorically blowing himself up.
BRAMNICK: No. I think depending on whichever station you watch that each
media has a different angle on that. But in essence, I think he`s a very
capable person as a governor as well as a president.
DYSON: Joy-Ann Reid, what do you think?
REID: You know, I don`t know. I don`t think it depended on what British
media you`re watching Mitt Romney essential went to Britain and united all
parties conservative to liberal in mocking him. And then he goes today to
Israel and essentially says that the Israeli culture is superior to that of
the Palestinians. So he`s basically going from nation to nation offending
people. I don`t know if that`s a good resume builder for president of the
DYSON: He`s taking the word offensive to a new level. Joy-Ann Reid, Jon
Bramnick, and Emily Tisch Sussman, thank you so much.
BRAMNICK: Thanks, man.
REID: Thank you.
SUSSMAN: Thank you.
DYSON: Coming up, we will go beyond the pundits and sound bites to get a
better understanding of what Romney is really up to. The word that
captures his candidacy will crack open the Dyson-ary for insight, next.
DYSON: Up next, I`m cracking open my Dyson-ary to help define Mitt
And in the big finish, what has the election of President Obama had on race
relations in the country. I`m talk with journalist T.J. Holmes. Stay
DYSON: Welcome back.
As many of you quo, I have been a university professor for nearly a quarter
century. But you may not know that before that as a kid in the ghetto of
Detroit, my schoolmates teased me as Brainiac and professor. They
predicted what I would become long before I would know my destiny.
As a 10-year-old, I won a couple of spelling bees and later a few
oratorical contests as well. So I guess you could say my love for words
started when I was knee high to a tadpole.
Back then when I didn`t know a word my mama used to tell me, look it up in
the dictionary. Boy, those were the days when a kid actually had to turn
to a physical volume that contained the wonder of the worded world.
Now you just Google it. The Merriam-Webster dictionary was my favorite
along with the Oxford English dictionary. But tonight, I want to introduce
you to the Dyson-ary. Get it? Dyson dictionary. Each night this week,
I`ll define a word in his political, cultural, and moral context.
Tonight`s word is obfuscate; define through the candidacy of Mitt Romney.
Here is a quick example.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I can tell you we follow the tax laws and if there`s an
opportunity to save taxes, we like anybody else in the country will follow
Doing away with the redundancy and waste in government and shifted services
and programs to the economic player who can deliver them best. These are
the serious steps toward getting our debt and spending under control I`m
going to take.
You asked quite a few questions there. I didn`t involve myself in any way
with Bain Capital`s enterprise after February of 1999.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: He says he`s following the tax laws, but he`s evasive about the
details. He`ll cut government, but he won`t be clear about how he`ll do
it. He says he wasn`t involved with Bain Capital after 1999, even though
he signed legal filings for the company as its CEO in 2001.
So, let`s check that Dyson-ary one more time. Obfuscate, to dissemble, not
answer, confuse, be evasive or unclear. Until after elected. See Mitt
Tonight in our survey, I asked you, can Mitt Romney go anywhere without
offending people? Six percent say yes, 94 percent say no.
Coming up in the big finish, much ink has spilled in 2008 about how
President Obama`s election would usher in a post racial America.
Television anchor T.J. Holmes joining me next to describe an altercation he
had this morning that exposed the wounds of racism in the country.
DYSON: Racial discrimination is a part of America that is hidden in plain
sight. It`s felt by millions of Americans and in one instance today, it
was felt by a public individual and documented in a public setting.
Former CNN anchor and current BET host T.J. Holmes was driving near his
Atlanta home this morning when he was pulled over unaware of any wrong
doing. He kept a running account of the traffic stop on twitter. Driving
while jack isn`t a joke, he wrote.
Later, he update it, officers reason for pulling me over, wanted to make
sure I had insurance on the car. I kid you not. Unfortunately, this
encounter is hardly shocking. It may, however, come as a surprise to some
who believe we`re living in post-racial America.
A Gallup poll taken the day after Barack Obama`s election in 2008 showed 70
percent of Americans thought the election would make race relations better.
But less than a year later, we were hearing things like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy
over and over and over again who has a deep seeded hatred for white people
or the white culture. I don`t know what it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: That`s a far cry from the hopes of a presidential candidate who
sought a more nuanced conversation about race in America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have asserted a firm
conviction, a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the
American people. That working together, we can move beyond some of our old
racial wounds, and that in fact, we have no choice. We have no choice if
we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DYSON: Let`s turn to T.J. Holmes, the host of BET`s upcoming show "don`t
sleep" which launches on October 1st.
T.J., welcome to the show.
T.J. HOLMES, HOST, DON`T SLEEP: Hey, good evening. Good to see you,
Dyson. Didn`t expect to be talking to you like this. And kind of a
reluctant guest in some ways. I didn`t expect to be here documenting my
experience which I know, as you mention, so many other young men went
through probably just today.
DYSON: Well, that`s all right, my friend. I appreciate you as a very
public person coming on here to explain this because millions of people
around the world watch you and we want you to help us understand this. So
explain what happened during your traffic stop today.
HOLMES: Well, I literally was 1.5 miles from my driveway. The officer had
been following me for at least a mile, maybe even a couple, and he was
following closely. Knew something was up. I anticipated his lights coming
on. Sure enough, they did. I pulled over and do what I always do, which
some people find crazy. I stick my arms out the window and cross my hands
like this so that the officer sees my hands. That`s just something
literally my mother has taught me to do.
DYSON: Because you`re a black man, you don`t want them to think you have a
HOLMES: There you go. I don`t want the officer nervous when he walks to
the door. And sure enough, the only thing he asked for, and I asked
specifically several times why was I stopped. And he said I want to make
sure you have insurance on the car. He even asked me for a bill of sale on
DYSON: What kind of car is it?
HOLMES: You know what, a couple things on that. I purposely didn`t say
what kind of car it was because I didn`t think it should matter. If I was
in a 2012 BMW or `89 Pinto, it shouldn`t matter.
HOLMES: But, the other part of that is that really, what difference it
makes what kind of car that I was in. So I purposely didn`t put that out.
I might talk about it later. But right now, I didn`t think it should
matter. But (INAUDIBLE). He wasn`t rude or anything necessarily, but he
didn`t have a reason for pulling me over. And I was. I was frustrated at
the time, Dyson, and I tweeted about it.
I was frustrated at the time. But then, all day today, I have wondered if
maybe I made a mistake. And if I did something wrong by enflaming people`s
emotions. Because by using that phrase driving while black and putting
that out, immediately, there were two sizes, clearly polarized on the
issue. One side, mothers, fathers, young black men who have gone through
this experience or hasn`t one go through it.
HOLMES: And then another side that called me a racist. The n word has
been thrown around today. Been called other names saying there you go
using the race card. And this, you talk about post-racial country, well,
we can`t have a conversation about race ever because this is the -- it
happens every single time. We go to our corners, we come out, we fight for
a round, beat the crap out of each other, and go back to our corners and
get ready to fight again and nothing gets done.
DYSON: We have 30 seconds left. You`re an expert at this, you are a
journalist. IN 30 seconds, what is the nub of the matter? What do we
learn from this?
HOLMES: What we learn is hopefully and the reason I`m talking to you
today, there was another young man who got stopped today who didn`t have
several attorneys and his contact list that he could call. He didn`t have
an attorney he could go to and say hey, I would like to file a complaint,
which I did do today with that police department. But I want to start the
conversation, continue this conversation, put a face and name on it, make
it real. I`m not naming the officer. I`m not naming the police department
yet because I want to go to them and try to make an improvement in my local
community before I put them on blast.
So, hopefully having this conversation, putting my name and face on it,
gets it out there and makes it more real to some people. But it happens to
a lot of people who are not going to have a voice.
DYSON: T.J. "truth and justice" Holmes, thank so much, my friend.
That`s "The Ed Show." I`m Michael Eric Dyson, in for Ed Schultz. "The
Rachel Maddow Show" starts now.
Welcome and good evening.
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