updated 9/5/2013 11:07:21 AM ET 2013-09-05T15:07:21

POLITICS NATION
September 3, 2013

Guests: Brad Sherman; Aaron David Miller; Patrick Murphy, Ray Suarez, Michelle Cottle, Goldie Taylor, Dana Milbank


REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: That wraps up today`s senate
Foreign Relations Committee hearing on a potential military strike against
Syria.

The hearing lasted more than three hours as two cabinet secretaries
and a four-star general made the administration`s case for congressional
authorization to attack Syria for using chemical weapons.

The big theme today from the administration were that this would be
limited involvement with no boots on the ground. No doubt Congress is
divided on this and so are the American people.

Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman, who has
indicated he would support limited military action in Syria, and Aaron
David Miller, a former state department adviser, now vice president for new
initiatives at the Woodrow Wilson center.

Congressman, let me start with you. You heard Senator Robert Menendez
tell a story about backing down to a bully, his mother telling him to avoid
him. After two times avoiding him, that didn`t work, he took a piece of
wood and he said he was never whacked again. What do you say to that?

REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: I say it`s an interesting story
from north jersey, but I`m not sure that I would draw the -- that that
would be a reason for taking action with regard to Syria.

I think my concern with Syria is that now that Assad has been open,
has used chemical weapons against civilians on a massive scale, that if
there is no cost to him from that, that he will do it again and again.
That will set the kind of precedent where for decades to come, dictators
will feel that they can use chemical weapons against their own people.
That being said, the text of the resolution that the president sent over to
us on August 31 is contradictory to the statements that t administration is
making now.

SHARPTON: And how so? Contradictory how?

SHERMAN: Well, when you look at the resolution, it authorizes action
of any type, including boots on the ground for any length of time, not just
the few hours or few days that the president is talking about.

Under this resolution, as long as what the president is doing is
related to dealing with or necessary or appropriate to deal with the
chemical weapons, he is authorized to do anything he thinks is appropriate.
In the hands of a different president, that could mean occupying Syria,
changing its government, et cetera. It bothers me that the rhetoric is to
describe this very limited action, but the resolution sent to us is a
complete blank check.

SHARPTON: But you have said that you would support a limited
involvement. So, your objection is that the actual statement is too broad,
and you would want a more limiting statement or text?

SHERMAN: Absolutely. What Congress should authorize is no more than
the president has made the case for, which is a short-term effort hopefully
without exposing our airmen to the risk of death to punish Assad and to
demonstrate to him that the use of these chemical weapons was ultimately a
military mistake.

SHARPTON: All right.

Let me go to you, Aaron David Miller. You think the president ought
to do something. Do you think it ought to be limited? And do you think
that the resolution should limit him only to a limited action?

AARON DAVID MILLER, VICE PRESIDENT, WOODROW WILSON CENTER: You know,
Reverend Sharpton, I think the president has three options. Do nothing,
which is unconscionable, try to do everything, which is reckless, or
identify the middle ground, which is a limited strike.

But let`s be clear about something. The president and secretary of
state use the words deter and degrade. The reality is I suspect this
strike is going to be far more punishing, far more comprehensive than any
of us have been led to believe, in large part because if you do not attack
chemical weapon stocks and storage facilities, then you have to go after
delivery systems. And when you go after delivery systems, you can go after
a lot of different military assets -- command and control, airfields,
aircraft, artillery units. They could attack the fourth armored division,
which was responsible for the deployment of these weapons. So we need to
be -- we need to be clear here. This is the least bad option.

And I suspect if you want to be credible, the administration is going
to have to find a way between launching a few cruise missiles into a
storage shed and a sustained a comprehensive strike which will tip the
battlefield balance. So I think there is risk there is uncertainty.

And one more point. Once you break the glass ceiling on military
action, the pressure and expectation to respond again will grow. And not,
Reverend Sharpton, necessarily in response to unconventional weapons. The
regime may well in response to these launch brutal and devastating offenses
using aircraft, artillery against rebel and opposition forces. We just
have to be prepared to be very disciplined about how we`re going to respond
the next time.

SHARPTON: All right.

But let me ask you this, Aaron David. The president said a couple of
times that the strikes will be limited. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to emphasize
once again. What we are envisioning is something limited. It is something
proportional. It will degrade Assad`s capabilities. At the same time we
have a broader strategy that will allow us to upgrade the capabilities of
the opposition.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, you`re saying that even if that is the intention of
the president, that it`s going to take more than a limited action and it is
unpredictable about how far it would go and expectations would rise. Am I
hearing you correctly?

MILLER: Yes. I mean, look, Reverend Sharpton, there is risk and
uncertainty, even in the least desirable action. And let`s be clear. This
president has willfully, and in my judgment wisely reached the conclusion
that his strategic objective is getting America out of bad wars, not
getting them into new ones. And that essentially means taking a very hard
look at what the relationship is between the application American military
powers in instrument and the end state.

I think Barack Obama knows he cannot end the civil war. All I`m
suggesting is once you strike, and limited in comparison to what? Limited
in comparison to operation, you know, desert storm? Limited in comparison
to the second Bush administration shock and awe? All I`m suggesting is I
think this military strike will surprise people. It`s not going to tip the
battlefield balance. But I suspect it will be punishing and devastating
and then the question becomes how do the Syrians react, and how are we
going to react in the days ahead.

SHARPTON: Yes.

MILLER: That`s the critical question here. And there no guarantees.
And every member of Congress should understand that. They can craft
whatever resolution they want with respect to authorization of use of
force. But once military action is undertaken, you run into a range of
unpredictable responses. And the administration has to have the authority
and power to be credible if necessary to respond. And not to go back to
Congress every single time Assad commits another horror and outrage.

SHARPTON: All right. Let me ask you, Congressman.

MILLER: It`s a very tricky road.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you, then, Congressman Sherman. Will the
Congress give the president authorization, or will they defy him?

SHERMAN: I think it depends on whether the president comes back to us
with a much more narrow resolution, and whether he goes on national
television and persuades the public.

I think there is also a little wisdom in the story from north jersey.
When he hit the bully, he didn`t act to incapacitate the bully. He didn`t
even hit the bully hard enough to cause the bully stop bullying activity in
the neighborhood. His sole objective was to keep that bully from hitting
Bob Menendez in the nose.

And likewise, we`re going to hit Syria, but probably not hard enough
to keep them from bullying their own people, not enough to incapacitate
them but I think enough so that they`ll learn that it`s bad behavior to use
chemical weapons.

SHARPTON: But the only gamble when you hit a guy, you better make
sure he is just a bully and not really a guy that will keep the fight
going.

Congressman Brad Sherman and Aaron David Miller, thanks for your time
tonight.

MILLER: Much appreciated.

SHARPTON: Coming up, whatever you think about our role in Syria, one
thing is certain, this is about more than politics. Some Republicans just
can`t see that.

Plus, Ted Cruz, get ready to meet Bill Clinton. The former president
is ready to make a case for Obamacare and he is not the only star coming
out.

Just when you thought it couldn`t get any more absurd, the right-
wingers are attacking president Obama for this photo.

Also what`s on your mind? E-mail me. Friend or foe, I want to know.
"Reply Al" is ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: No matter where you stand on Syria, it`s an issue that
requires honest, thoughtful debate. Well, for some on the right, it`s just
a new chance to launch personal attacks on the president.

Kansas Congressman Tim Huelskamp tweeted today, quote, "since Obama
still refuses to tell us the whole truth about Benghazi, why do GOP leaders
trust Obama to be truthful about Syria? It`s perfectly reasonable to
oppose getting involved in Syria. But bringing up the phony Benghazi
scandal to call the president untruthful, that`s shameful.

And over at FOX, they are turning to the old stereotype, that all
Muslims are terrorists.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Listen to this video, senator McCain, of
a Syrian -- looks like a fighter jet being shot out of the sky. Listen to
what they say afterwards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: I have a problem helping those people out
screaming that after hit.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Do you have a problem with American
Christians saying thank God, thank God? That`s what they are saying. Come
on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: John McCain was right to push back against this anti-Muslim
rhetoric. But his old running mate is not on the same page.

Our favorite half governor from Alaska posted on facebook, quote, "so
we`re bombing Syria because Syria is bombing Syria? And I`m the idiot?"
Quote, "let Allah sort it out."

Let Allah sort it out? There are legitimate reasons to oppose
military action in Syria, but it`s beyond shameful to use this debate as a
chance to trot out anti-Islamic rhetoric or make personal attacks on the
president.

Joining me now is former congressman Patrick Murphy, Democrat from
Pennsylvania.

Thank you for being here tonight.

PATRICK MURPHY (D), FORMER PENNSYLVANIA CONGRESSMAN: Thanks, Reverend
Al, for having me back on.

SHARPTON: You know, doesn`t this kind of rhetoric undermine the
serious substantive debate that we need to have about any potential
military action, Congressman?

MURPHY: You`re absolutely right, Rev. I mean, the fact is that we
are going to debate whether we`re going to put our own men and women into
harm`s way. This is one of the most serious and somber responsibilities of
the Congress. And you have knuckleheads that congressman from Congress and
the half governor who are just really politicizing this. And thank
goodness we have patriots like John McCain who at least stick up against
FOX News when they try and parade that crap.

But let me just say, I do believe that people like John Boehner, who
came out for a Syria action today and John McCain, I think they`re sincere.
But Rev., the problem is that you have these other tea party knuckleheads
that are in the Congress by the way, who are going to play politics about
this. They are going to move the football.

SHARPTON: It`s not only the tea party, congressman. Let me show you
something else that to me beyond the pale. You know, some Republicans will
take anything to attack the president. Let me give you this example.

Today in Michigan, former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld was asked
why the U.S. faces opposition in the Middle East. Let`s listen to the
answer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: No. Why do people
criticize us? Well, you want to blame somebody. If you want to learn how
blame, watch your president. Just one time you would like to see him suck
it up and take responsibility for something.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Suck it up and take responsibility for something. I mean,
can you believe this kind of disrespect from a former cabinet member?

MURPHY: I can`t. I mean, as you know, secretary Rumsfeld was one of
the key architects of the Iraq war. An unnecessary war that had no
connection to 9/11, that had no connection to weapons of mass destruction.
If anyone should suck it up, should it be rummy who should shut his mouth.
You would think he would have the decency during this somber time to keep
his comments to himself. If there was any reason why we don`t have
credibility in the Middle East for the next few decades, it`s the
Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld doctor that got us into that war in Iraq.

SHARPTON: Well, and I might add that you not only are a former member
of Congress, you served in Iraq and was the first Iraq veteran to serve in
the congress.

Let me also give you this, Congressman. Conservative lobbyists and
writer Michael Goldfarb told "The New York Times," quote, "right now the
easy Republican vote looks like the vote against Obama." So for many, this
isn`t about the merits of the situation, it`s about a vote against
President Obama.

MURPHY: And that`s where the majority of these Republicans are going
to vote.

Listen, Rev., I was born on a Monday, but it wasn`t last Monday. And
let me tell you, they play politics when was Bill Clinton as the commander
in chief, they played politics with Bosnia and Kosovo. The Kosovo vote
fell in the house that the Republicans controlled. And that was the worst
ethnic cleansing in Europe since World War II. NATO and the U.N. acted.
Our Republican Congress didn`t vote to act.

And I served before Iraq, I served in Bosnia. I walked the fields of
towns like Srebrenica, where thousands, thousands of Muslims were
slaughtered. And it didn`t stop until we went in there and we stopped it.
But we did it with the U.N. And that`s why we need to have this debate
right now in Congress. They should get back from vacation, and should be
having this debate right now in the house and the Senate.

SHARPTON: Congressman, will he win the vote? Will the president win
the vote in the Congress?

MURPHY: Right now he won`t win it. He has to make the case. And we
have to follow the pal doctor, Rev. We have to make sure we have an end
game on this. And we also need to make sure we exhaust our remedies. Not
just getting the Congress to vote on it, but we need some U.N. action.

We got to demand a vote in the U.N. Security Council. Put China and
Russia on record to make sure that they say yes, we`re going to look the
other way when this obscene atrocity happens in Syria.

SHARPTON: All right. Former congressman Patrick Murphy, thanks for
your time tonight.

MURPHY: Thank you.

SHARPTON: Ahead, the stars come out to support a key part of
President Obama`s agenda. And the Republicans aren`t happy about it.

Plus, we`ll tell you why the right-wingers are so outraged over this
photo. It seems like we have a brand-new phony controversy. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: There is just days to go before a major piece of President
Obama`s health care law takes effect. So you know what that means? The
right is trying to tear it down. Senator Ted Cruz is out with the new TV
ad attacking the law. And 80 House Republicans are urging Speaker Boehner
to block funding it. But there is a little problem. It`s working. And
they`re up against a celebrity army doing everything it can to promote the
law.

Will Ferrell`s funny or die website is already at work on videos that
will publicize Obamacare. Just last week, Magic Johnson was seen entering
the White House. And when he left, he tweeted, "don`t forget that
Obamacare officially starts on October 1st." Katy Perry has also gotten in
on the action, even tweeting with the President about affordable health
care. And then there is the biggest political celebrity in the country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FMR. PRES. BILL CLINTON (D), UNITED STATES: Let me ask you something.
Are we better off because President Obama fought for health care reform?
You bet we are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: That`s right. President Clinton will make the case
tomorrow during a speech at his presidential library in Arkansas. So
sorry, Senator Cruz. This isn`t even looking like a fair fight anymore.

Joining me now is Ray Suarez, senior correspondent for PBS "NewsHour"
and author of a new book, "Latino Americans: The 500-Year Legacy that
Shaped the Nation." And Michelle Cottle, Washington correspondent for The
Daily Beast. Thank you both for coming on the show.

RAY SUAREZ, AUTHOR, LATINO AMERICANS: Great to be with you.

MICHELLE COTTLE, THE DAILY BEAST: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Ray, why is the White House using big names to promote the
law?

SUAREZ: Well, I suppose they could bring the chief health economist
from the Brookings Institution, but I doubt that`s going to make too many
26-year-olds` socks roll up and down. You want people to sign up for
health care who know they only have to pay a fine if they don`t sign up for
it, and the insurance is more money than the fine. So you`ve got to give
them voices, faces that they identify with, that they know who have the
possibility to convince them to go do it.

SHARPTON: Now, Michelle, the White House held a meeting earlier this
summer with celebrities help promote the law. Amy Paula, Jennifer Hudson,
representatives from Oprah, Jon Bon Jovi, others there. How key is this
push, especially getting young people on board with the law?

COTTLE: Look, the administration kind of missed its budget for
outreach and marketing for this sort of thing. If young people and healthy
people in particular don`t get into these exchanges, the entire structure
collapses. You have to have these young, healthy people in these exchanges
in order to balance out the cost of covering older, sicker people. So it
is extremely important that you find voices that young people will listen
to and go out and sign up for these things.

SHARPTON: And the difficult part about it is that young people almost
feel invincible. So you need an extra push to get them to even feel like
they need insurance.

SUAREZ: Well, it will be interesting to see after the enrollment
period opens whether you start to hear the stories of people who are 27,
28, 29 years old and had an accident, a devastating illness, a chronic
condition that bankrupted them, as it did many other people. You may feel
invincible, and then something really bad happens, and you realize I could
have used health insurance.

SHARPTON: No doubt about it. Ray, while you`re talking, your new
book is about the Latino experience. And no doubt the Latino community is
very much in the forefront of this health care debate. Senator Ted Cruz,
who is leading the push against the law, says he is trying to scrap
Obamacare in order to help the Latino and African-American communities.
Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It`s already law. Why not just get on board and
try it?

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Because it`s not working, and it`s hurting
Americans. And by the way, the people it`s hurting the most are the most
vulnerable among us. The people who are losing their jobs are young
people, are Hispanics, are African-Americans, are single moms. I don`t
think that`s fair. I don`t think that`s right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: The Latino community, Ray, is hugely important politically.
Why does the GOP risk alienating them?

SUAREZ: Hugely important politically, Rev, but also widely
underinsured and uninsured compared with America as a whole, it`s the most
underinsured and uninsured community of all. So telling them that you want
to help them by getting rid of the law is interesting, I guess, only if you
have an alternative. If you`re going to say -- and here is how I want to
get you insured. But so far just trying to take down the law as far as the
polls say hasn`t had a lot of appeal.

SHARPTON: You know, Michelle, some states are going to extremes to
block the law. In Missouri, local officials have been barred from doing
anything to help put the law into place. And about half a dozen states
won`t enforce consumer protections that ban insurance companies from
rejecting patients with preexisting conditions. So you even have former
Senator Jim DeMint had this to say about the health care law last week.
Listen to this, Michelle.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I cannot think of anything that is more un-American
than national government-run health care. Those who believe in those
principles of socialism and collectivism we`ve seen over the centuries,
they see as their Holy Grail taking control of the health care system.
It`s such a personal service. It`s such a big part of the economy. If
they can control that, they can control most areas of our lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: So there is real hard and in my opinion somewhat hysterical
in some quarters opposition to Obamacare?

COTTLE: Absolutely. And they know that time is running out. I mean
Senator Ted Cruz has been out there making the argument that time is
running out, and this is their last off ramp before this kind of takes
hold. And I think that that is absolutely true. I mean, everybody kind of
misunderstand what`s the law will do. Nobody is really clear, there has
been a lot of efforts to make people frightened of it. And for whatever
the law`s shortcomings, it`s also going to do a lot of good things. And
once people kind of understand how this works, it`s going to be a lot
tougher to unwind it.

SHARPTON: Yes.

COTTLE: So the Republicans see this as the 11th hour. If they don`t
stop it before these exchanges start on the 1st, they`re going to have a
lot -- you know, it just gets harder and harder from there.

SHARPTON: You know, ray, for all the talk about being fiscally
conservative, the right sure doesn`t mind wasting money. For example,
today the Michigan legislature passed a Medicaid expansion, but only if its
implementation was delayed that will cost the state $7 million a day, or
$600 million total when it`s all said and done.

SUAREZ: But that`s not how they sold it. They said that by standing
up for the principle, they`re going to save money down the road by not
implementing the expansion of Medicaid under the affordable care act. I
mean, nobody goes to the people and says, we`re going to bring you a
special piece of legislation that is going to cost you $7 million a day.
As Michelle noted, they`ve got to dig their heels in now, because they`re
running out of time. When those exchanges open up on October 1st, the
marketplace is open. And really, we`ll see whether this whole thing works
or not.

SHARPTON: What do you -- what is your take on Bill Clinton, coming
out tomorrow at his library. He is really assuming this role of explainer
in chief.

SUAREZ: Well, he has helped and some would argue saved Obama`s
argument in the past, President Obama`s argument in the past. And when
someone calls you the secretary of explaining stuff, well, I mean, he does
break it down. And he is a very potent persuader. Again, the proof of the
pudding, we`re going see, there are seven million people who have to sign
up in the period, the window that opens after October 1st. Forty percent
of those people are in the young age group that is the most highly
uninsured right now. And as Michelle mentioned, the numbers only work if
they sign up en masse. They`ve got to do it after those marketplaces open
up.

SHARPTON: Michelle, give me your take on President Clinton. He is
coming out tomorrow in his role of -- as explainer in chief.

COTTLE: I think it`s absolutely right. He has the advantage of he is
one step removed from the current political battle. And if anything,
Republicans have been playing up the Clintons as a bygone era of more
reasonable Democrats. So for him to get out there and do his whole
explaining role, it should be a big help for Obama.

SHARPTON: And Ray, the new book is about the contributions of Latinos
in America?

SUAREZ: It insists from the beginning that Latino history is American
history. That it`s not some separate branch of history that you have to
learn in isolation. It is American history, just as much as the mayflower
and Jamestown and the civil war.

SHARPTON: Latino Americans. Thank you, Ray, for bringing it by.
Thank you for coming on, Michelle Cottle. Thank you for your time this
evening. And Ray`s book, the 500 year legacy that shaped a nation, Latino
Americans.

Still ahead, a picture says a thousand words. And this one is
exposing some new right wing hypocrisy.

But first, the inspiring story of the woman who didn`t let failure
stop her from swimming into history. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s a story to inspire, a story of perseverance and
determination. After five other attempts, 64-year-old long distance
swimmer Diana Nyad made history. Becoming the first person to make the
daunting 110-mile swim from Cuba to the United States without a shark cage.
Her first attempt was in 1978, but was unsuccessful. And four different
times she was unsuccessful. But yesterday, after 52 hours, 54 minutes, and
18 seconds of swimming the Florida strait, it was all cheers for Diana.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DIANA NYAD, LONG-DISTANCE SWIMMER: All my life, I don`t know where it
came from, but I believed in dreaming big. I just -- it doesn`t satisfy me
to have small dreams. And I can`t tell you what a big, big dream this is
out here. I don`t wake up every day attached to anything of a group wise I
am. I don`t wake up feeling like a woman. I don`t wake up feeling like a
gay woman. I don`t wake up feeling like I`m 64 years old. I just wake up
and bound out and grasp the next day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: She believed in dreaming big and chased her dreams despite
all the obstacles in her way, including her age. The lesson she wants us
to take away, never, ever give up. She`s an inspiration for all of us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: We`re back with a new round of right wings Obama
derangement syndrome, oval office edition. This weekend the White House
posted a photo showing President Obama with his foot on the desk in the
oval office. Drudge report picked it up, and the far right`s outrage
machine went into overdrive. Teaparty.org tweeted does seeing President
Obama`s foot on the Oval Office desk make your blood boil? Over at FOX,
Lou Dobbs says, "the White House released it mistakenly, thinking it`s a
cool image." And comments from some other Tea Party forums got downright
nasty.

What a scandal, what an outrage. Who would dare do something like
that? President Obama, that`s who. He propped his feet on that very same
desk. Where was the outrage back then? President Ford did it too. Check
it out. It looks comfortable. Ford also used to sit on his desk.
President Reagan even used his desk as a snack tray. Oh, the scandal!
Folks, the right wing`s hypocrisy is clear, and so is their real agenda.
Attacking President Obama for anything he does, no matter how big or how
small.

Joining me are Goldie Taylor and Dana Milbank in his very
unpresidential posture tonight.

GOLDIE TAYLOR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Go, Dana.

DANA MILBANK, THE WASHINGTON POST: Sorry, Rev.

SHARPTON: Thank you for being here tonight. Dana, let me ask you, do
these ridiculous small-scale attacks from the right serve a larger purpose?

MILBANK: Well, look. From the beginning of this presidency, there
have been efforts to discredit him for anything. Some are sillier than
others. And as I`ve explored and you`ve explored Obama derangement
syndrome, it does appear that just about anything, like that poll that you
mentioned in Louisiana where a third of the republican voters were blaming
President Obama for Katrina, which happened when he was in his first term
in office.

SHARPTON: Right.

MILBANK: So he has managed to get under their skin. There has been
an effort to portray him as something other than presidential, or as
something other than American. Now probably in this case they didn`t
realize that there would be the old black and white photos showing previous
presidents doing exactly such a thing. But, yes, outrage is conditional
and seasonal.

SHARPTON: And Goldie, I mean, as anything, like for example, when the
President supposedly was bowing to foreign leaders like the president of
China, but they ignore the fact that republican president Richard Nixon did
the exact same thing when meeting Chairman Mao.

TAYLOR: Sure. Well, you know what it`s like, Reverend, when you fall
in love. You fall in love, everything the other person does is right.
Everything they say is funny. But when you`re not in love, when you a
deep-seated loathing for someone, then nothing they say or do can be right.
And that`s what it is with the case with this president. Is there some
racial animus at play? Maybe.

But I think this is really more about ideology and the very idea that
the principles that this President holds dear, that his integrity, that his
way of living, his sense of discipline, his sense of decency, his love for
this country, have to come under constant check and charge by this right
wing. It helps them to raise money. It helps them to get volunteers for
their campaigns. It helps them to turn out the vote. It really does help
support in any number of ways. And it`s a tool, a tool used by some of the
mainstream republican media.

SHARPTON: Well, that`s what bothers me, Dana, is that some of the
mainstream republican leadership in some ways identify with this, or at
least do not denounce it. For example, Tea Party activist David Horowitz,
in making offensive comments about President Obama at a right wing
conference that was sponsored by the Koch Brothers. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID HOROWITZ, FREEDOM CENTER FOUNDER: The reason we don`t attack
them is obvious, but no one will say it out loud. I will.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

It`s because the color of his skin is black. Actually, actually, he
is half black. It is because Obama is a minority that no one will hold him
to a standard or confront him with what he has done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: Now, this conference was attended by GOP leaders like Marco
Rubio, Ted Cruz, Governor Bobby Jindal. I mean, doesn`t it show how this
kind of garbage has become mainstream in the far right?

MILBANK: Well, Reverend, there has always been this kind of garbage
out on the fringe. What has happened here is the Republican Party decided
to try to harness the power of the Tea Party and embrace these folks. And
the problem is when you do that, you need to be accountable for the things
you have given the microphone to. The clowns who are out there on the
fringe are given more attention because people are in the audience with
them, because they`re being promoted by leadership within the Republican
Party. So it works both ways. It has helped them in elections, but now
you see that it`s had the effect of countenancing this sort of behavior.

SHARPTON: You know, Goldie, the president in this past march talked
himself about the tendency of the far right to demonize him with personal
attacks. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Sometimes I reflect, you know,
is there something else I could do to make these guys -- I`m not talking
about the leaders now, but maybe some of the House Republican caucus
members not to paint horns on my head.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHARPTON: I mean, it`s probably something he wonders about. But I
don`t know what he could do this. This is so deep seated and has become so
vile.

TAYLOR: Well, you know, Dana is absolutely right about this. It is
deep-seated. It is vile. We have really mainstreamed crazy in this
country. So at the end of the day, this president can`t do or say
anything, really, to bring this back to the fold. Republican leaders can`t
even go to the White House, can`t shake this President`s hand, can`t have
dinner with him outside of the purview of their constituencies, who would
then hold them to account for being too chummy with him.

One of the things that I have said about Chris Christie and whether or
not he is going to be able to run for the GOP nomination. He is far too
many pictures out there of him being chummy with this president. Even in a
time of crisis. And so, the cat is out of the bag, and they`re not able
really to stuff it back in. And that`s going to be a real problem for
them, you know, come 2014 and even 2016.

SHARPTON: The other thing about this is that Dana, they have in so
many ways disrespected this president that they`ve lowered the respect
level of the office, something that could come back and haunt all parties
for a long time. Once you lower the bar to denigrating the president, to
the degree that they have done this president.

MILBANK: Well, I think that`s true, and I think it`s been going on
for some period of time now, that the idea of the disrespect not just for
the person who is holding the office, but for the office itself. And
eventually one becomes the other. Now these Republicans of 2013 didn`t
invent this, but they seem to have taken it to an entirely different level
when even the President`s foot on the desk becomes a scandalous issue. But
I think we can say objectively now that the President does seem to have a
leg up on his opposition.

TAYLOR: True.

SHARPTON: Well, you had two legs up on me, but I got even. Goldie
Taylor and Dana Milbank, thank you both for your time tonight.

MILBANK: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Thank you, Reverend Sharpton.

Friend or foe, I want to know. "Reply Al" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SHARPTON: It`s time for "Reply Al." Remember, friend or foe, I want
to know. Judith writes, "When we were leaving Mt. Hope Cemetery in
Rochester, New York, in June, we noticed a sign next to the Frederick
Douglass grave. We walked down the path, turned left toward the grave when
our jaws dropped by what we saw. It was very overwhelming. The thought
was Reverend Al would like to see it."

The sign Judith is referring to is actually a picture of Trayvon
Martin on Frederick Douglass` grave site. You know, when I read your note,
Judith, I thought about how I read many years ago Frederick Douglass was
asked by a young man what advice do you give young people that want to get
involved in activism. And Frederick Douglass looked at him and said
agitate, young man, agitate. It was that agitation which is why everyone
knows Trayvon Martin`s name. And that agitation will continue until we
deal withstand your ground and some resolve.

Brenda says, "The Republicans target, punish, and humiliate the poor
and their children, is that their idea of what they call family values?"

Yes, it`s very interesting. You know, I think that people that
struggle to bring and make ends meet and find a way know more about family
values than those that are born on third base and think they hit a triple.
I was raised by a single mother who had to get help from time to time with
food stamps and welfare. But she taught me that life is about where you`re
going, not where you started. And she taught me don`t make any excuses.
You can be whoever you prepare yourself to be. And believe in yourself to
be. That single mother knew family values more than someone who has a
nurse to raise their children for them, teaching them nothing personally.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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