Guest: Ben Cardin, Jared Bernstein, Howard Dean, Rep. Joe Sestak, Ryan Lizza, Michael Medved, Kiki Mclean, Rep. Jerrold Nadler
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: I‘m Ed Schultz. This is THE ED SHOW.
SCHULTZ: Good evening, Americans.
Live from 30 Rock in New York City, it‘s THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
Tonight, Republicans already using code words for the Supreme Court nomination. Since when is empathy a bad thing?
The Senate Judiciary Committee‘s Ben Cardin joins us.
And we‘ll have a text poll for you. Get your phones ready.
President Obama plans to get tough on people in big business and rich guys that have been hiding their money overseas.
Arlen Specter says he‘s a Democrat, but Joe Sestak says not so fast.
He‘ll join us.
And a new tactic on the table for busting the Bushes on torture.
And “Psycho Talk” with Mr. King Romney, II.
But first, tonight‘s “OpEd.”
You know, for the last 30 years, the word “liberal” has been the real target of the right wing. I mean, they have vilified this word, they have demonized it, associated it with anything bad. Anything that‘s ever gone wrong with this country, well, it must be liberal.
Well, for several decades I think it‘s pretty much worked, but most Democrats that have ever run for office have always felt the need to separate themselves from that term, liberal means loser.
Well, then came the Bush administration and a series of events that seemed to be a heck of a lot worse than the word “liberal.” You know, the conditions of the country, the country facing the middle class and the near economic ruin that we‘re facing. It got a lot of us rethinking this whole thing. All of a sudden, “liberal” doesn‘t sound so bad.
President Obama was the well-advertised liberal candidate that the Democrats supported. He got elected using the word “change.”
Folks, now the first big chance for change is upon us, the Supreme Court.
President Obama, again tonight, please don‘t back away from this opportunity. Nominate a liberal judge with experience and a track record of fighting for all Americans, not just the country-clubbers.
Main Street elected President Obama. Main Streeters deserve a judge that will preserve equal rights, civil rights, workers‘ rights, women‘s rights, and social justice.
How about people over business? How would that work? How about a judge that fights for minorities, the working folk? How about a judge that follows the Constitution and not the all mighty dollar?
Now, he has spoken to, let‘s see, Arlen Specter and Orrin Hatch. Hold it. That makes me feel real nice and warm inside. I say enough of that. Leave it to the Republicans to be against someone who hasn‘t even been announced it.
This is legacy time.
Do it, Mr. President. Do it. Do it for the folks who came out and voted for you. They want a liberal on the Supreme Court. Nominate a liberal and set the tone.
Joining me now is Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland, a Democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senator, good to have you with us tonight.
I‘ve followed all of this coverage. I‘ve read a whole lot. I just don‘t see anybody in an elected position coming out saying, I think the president should put a died-in-the-wool liberal on the Supreme Court.
Why are Democrats afraid he to do that, sir?
SEN. BEN CARDIN (D), MARYLAND: Well, I think we want a person on the court that‘s going to have a passion for the protections in our Constitution. If you want to call that liberal, cal lit liberal. I call it common sense and traditionalist.
I want a justice who‘s going to follow the precedence of the court, follow the rule of law, have empathy for what is happening out in the community. To me, that‘s a traditional justice that I want, and I think that‘s who the president should appoint.
SCHULTZ: Have you suggested to the president who he should at least talk to on this?
CARDIN: I have not. It‘s my understanding he will be talking with us, those of us on the committee, and all the members of the United States Senate. But I tell you, I really do feel this is an incredibly important role for the United States Senate.
This is a lifetime appointment. It‘s sometimes difficult to predict how a nominee will vote once—or act once that person becomes a justice. I want a person though who has a passion for our Constitution.
SCHULTZ: Yes. These whole things, situations like this, have intensified, I think, over the years. Senator Leahy, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had this to say. He weight in on what maybe the president should think about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Having only one woman on the Supreme Court does not reflect the makeup of the United States. I think we should have more women. We should have more minorities. I would like to see more people from outside the judicial monastery, somebody who has had some real life experience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Senator Cardin, do you go along with that? Do you think the president should pick a minority or a woman? What do you think?
CARDIN: Well, I do want the court to reflect America, but let me say, there‘s only nine justices. This is a lifetime appointment. You‘ve got to try to get the very best person you can on the court. It is critically important to have the right balance on the Supreme Court.
SCHULTZ: You know, Senator, since Mr. Alito and Mr. Roberts have come on the court, it‘s pretty clear that businesses had some pretty favorable rulings. Are you confident the president is going to put somebody in there who‘s going to, I guess, generically speaking, look after the little guy in America?
CARDIN: I think the president said exactly that. He wants someone who understands the problems that typical Americans are having.
But I tell you, if you take someone who has a passion and understanding of the importance of our Constitution, and how that protects our everyday life, whether it‘s as a consumer, or whether it‘s as a person who uses our health care system, or someone who has an involvement in our judicial system, you use that and protect us against the abuses of government by a justice that will really understand the Constitution, I think you will protect that consumer against big business.
SCHULTZ: And Senator Cardin, how big of a fight do you think this is going to be? Because Orrin Hatch has already come out and made the comment that the word “empathy” is code for activist. How do you take that?
CARDIN: Oh, not at all. Not at all.
I think it‘s clear that for a person and a justice who has empathy, we want that person to follow the rule of law, to follow judicial precedent. There‘s plenty of room in there.
But look, we don‘t have openings in the Supreme Court often. I expect that the Senate will want to make sure the confirmation process is thorough. I hope at the end of the day, each one of us will vote for what we think is right, and I am confident that if the president does the type of vetting that I think he will do, that we‘ll have a nominee we can support.
SCHULTZ: Ben, tell him to put a good liberal in there for me. Will you do that?
CARDIN: You know, your definition of liberal might be someone else‘s definition of being conservative. We want a person who‘s going to fight for the Constitution.
SCHULTZ: Senator, good to have you on tonight. Thanks so much.
We want to know who you think President Obama should nominate to the high court. Should the president pick a woman for the Supreme Court? Text “A” for yes, “B” for no. Send that to 622639. That‘s the number, 622639, the number right here on your screen.
We‘ll be back later on the show and bring you the results. So weigh in tonight.
The president went after people not paying their fair share today. That‘s right, fair share of taxes. He announced a crackdown—now, that‘s a heavy word—crackdown on companies and wealthy Americans who dodge paying taxes by using offshore tax havens.
Now, the amount of tax money being hidden overseas, folks, is absolutely huge. We‘re talking about a total of more than $200 billion.
The president also made it clear it‘s about the jobs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK H. OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For years, we have talked about ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and giving tax breaks to companies that create jobs here in America. That‘s what our budget will finally do. We will stop letting American companies that create jobs overseas take deductions on their expenses when they do not pay American taxes on their profits.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Whoa. The president sounds like he‘s going to go after it.
Joining me now to talk about it is the vice president‘s chief economics man. And that, of course, is Jared Bernstein.
Mr. Bernstein, good to have you with us tonight here on THE ED SHOW.
How determined is this White House to make sure that everybody pays their fair share and end this offshore tax haven that has been created, within the law, I might add? But how adamant is he about changing this?
JARED BERNSTEIN, VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN‘S CHIEF ECONOMIST: Well, I think you heard the president today. He‘s extremely serious about making these changes.
This revenue is in our budget. What we‘ve done today is specify the precise kinds of loopholes, evasions, and really upside-down incentives that we‘re going after.
I think one thing you didn‘t quite capture in the lead-in is that, you know, we actually incentivize some of our corporations to create jobs overseas with these tax code differences. By changing the tax code such that we get rid of these loopholes and close that evasive kind of behavior, we re-incentivize those corporations to invest here, create employment here. That‘s really key.
SCHULTZ: It‘s almost as if the president was asking for legislation on this. I mean, he‘s been as adamant about this as he is anything else.
Now, who‘s going to lead the charge on this? And is this going to be another partisan fight? And are there going to be some people who are really going to protect their friends, so to speak?
BERNSTEIN: Well, it‘s going to be a fight, but it‘s going to be a good fight. Remember, this is—the president was engaged in this type of legislation when he was a senator. This was very much a campaign promise.
Senator Baucus, Senator Levin, very powerful Chairman of Ways and Means Congressman Rangel, they are all behind the president. He‘s with them shoulder to shoulder on these changes.
Now, will there be lobbyists out in force to try to protect some of these ill-gotten gains? Of course there will be. There always are. But this is a good fight.
We‘re talking about $200-plus billion over 10 years in loopholes and tax evasions, in basically—instead of incentives that are upside down in terms of creating jobs here, versus incentivizing U.S. corporations to create jobs overseas. That‘s the opposite of what we need right now.
SCHULTZ: Yes. Well, you know, Jared, some people are wondering, OK, how heavy of a lift is this going to be? Well, here it is. Of the top 100 publicly traded companies in this country, 83 of them have got subsidiaries in tax havens.
The other thing is—I mean, this is the lobbying power, my man.
BERNSTEIN: Well, that‘s true, Ed. But when you lift a fact like that to the American people, who are listening to us talk about this—and believe me, the president is going to be emphasizing precisely those kinds of facts, 83 of the top 100 largest corporations have tax havens overseas. He also referenced the fact that there is an address in the Cayman Islands where 19,000 corporations are listed as having a subsidiary.
Now, that‘s either the biggest building in the world or the biggest tax scam. And a lot of people listening to this debate will know precisely where that target is.
SCHULTZ: Well, Americans should also know that there are TARP companies involved here. And taxpayer dollars have gone to some of these companies, obviously, to save them.
Morgan Stanley has got 158 companies overseas. Citi‘s got 90. And Bank of America, 59.
Now, doesn‘t it make kind of a hard case to have our taxpayer dollars that have got subsidiaries and now the president is really—is it pay back time?
BERNSTEIN: Well, let me say this, Ed. I mean, there is absolutely nothing wrong with these companies having any subsidiary they want anywhere in the world. In fact, I‘d argue that‘s part of global capitalism. But they‘ve to play by the rules.
The problem here is not that they have subsidiaries, it‘s that their subsidiaries evade our tax code, find loopholes, cost the American taxpayers playing by the rules $200 billion in these evasions. That‘s the problem and that‘s what we‘re trying to fix here.
SCHULTZ: All right. Mr. Bernstein, good to have you on with us so much. Thanks so much.
BERNSTEIN: My pleasure.
SCHULTZ: He‘s the chief economist for the vice president, Joe Biden.
All right. When it comes to health care reform, I think you know where I stand on this one. We absolutely have to fix it. And some real ideas from someone who knows a little something about the medical industry, doctor, former governor from Vermont Howard Dean is my next guest here on THE ED SHOW.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
You know, I think there‘s nothing more important than health care. Failure absolutely is not an option. And you know the Republicans aren‘t coming up with a plan.
In fact, during their pizza party on Saturday, Eric Cantor was asked about health care. Did he provide any solutions? No. Here‘s his answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC CANTOR ®, MINORITY WHIP: We ought to be promoting anything that can try and bring health care costs down. At a point, though, where we want to maintain the quality we‘ve got.
So when we‘re thinking about coverage, let us bear in mind the systems that we see in other countries such as the U.K. or Canada, we want the people, everyone, to be covered, but in a way that provides them access to qualify coverage, not government takeover of their health care.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: There you go, another shot at the Democrats.
You know, this is what infuriates me, is that government is such a bad thing, that having your bill paid is a bad thing. How come we don‘t have a bunch of Canadians leaving Canada, just roaring into the United States because health care is so bad up there?
Our next guest has a lot of plans and a lot of expertise to go along with it.
Joining me now is Mr. Howard Dean.
Dr. Dean, Governor, great to have you with us tonight.
DR. HOWARD DEAN, STANDWITHDRDEAN.COM: Thanks for having me on, Ed.
SCHULTZ: What do you have going tonight? I know that you‘re really pushing hard and you‘ve got something online tonight. Tell our audience about that.
DEAN: We‘ve got StandWithDrDean.com. This one is a half-hour discussion sponsored by Move On and Democracy for America out of Burlington, my old campaign from five years ago. And it ought to be fun.
And look, we‘re going to do health care reform this year. The president wants to do it, and it‘s going to have a public option. I‘m delighted to hear that Eric Cantor is going to be supporting it. Isn‘t that news?
SCHULTZ: Well, you know, you get mixed signals from the Republicans, but the one thing you do get is constant vilification of any government involvement at all, although there are millions of Americans who feel very comfortable with Medicare.
Dr. Dean, tell us, what do you think the proper mix of involvement should be in solving this problem?
DEAN: Well, I think we ought to leave that up to the American people.
We ought to give them both options.
Let them keep what they have if they like it, or let them sign up for a public health insurance program like Medicare if they don‘t. Medicare, everybody understands it. It‘s been around for more than 40 years. It didn‘t get any Republican votes back in the 1960s, when we put that in either, but it works well, and older folks are secure in their medical care now.
So now the question is, are we going to let Eric Cantor and the Republicans and the insurance companies decide what people are going to have for their health insurance, or are we going leave that up to the American people? I think the American people deserve a choice of a public health insurance option if they want one, or keeping what they have in private insurance section if they like that. That‘s a fair thing.
SCHULTZ: Well, Dr. Dean, there‘s a lot of rattling out there about single payer being taken off the table. I don‘t know why the Obama administration has taken single payer off the table. How do you feel about that?
DEAN: Single payer is not off the table.
SCHULTZ: It‘s not?
DEAN: No. Single payer already exists for everybody over 65. What Obama‘s plan essentially does is give you the choice of whether you want to be in the single payer or private insurance market.
SCHULTZ: OK. So I could go single payer, then? Is that what the president is going to be putting forward?
DEAN: Absolutely. No, the president is going to put together a plan that has both a public health insurance program, which is essentially a single payer, like Medicare, and a private sector health care plan, and you can choose whichever one you want.
SCHULTZ: Well, you know where that‘s going. The majority of Americans are going to go with the single payer.
Now, here‘s what I don‘t get—why haven‘t we seen any actuaries about what this is going to cost to combat these righties out there who are just tearing this thing apart?
DEAN: Well, look, we don‘t think that these folks are getting anywhere. I think when the president got elected, he kind of put an end to this kind of culture of no-ism, and the Republicans haven‘t gotten the message yet. All they‘ve said is no for four months, and I think the American people are getting sick of it.
They want a real solution. I think the president has got a real solution here.
SCHULTZ: Do you think it can get done this year?
DEAN: Yes, I do. I think it can get done this year. There‘s going to be some resistance among the insurance companies and the Republicans, and the Democrats who like the Republicans. But I think in general, we have got to have a real health care form bill, and you‘re not going to have a real health care reform bill if you keep pouring money into the system that we already have.
SCHULTZ: Now, would Arlen Specter be one of those Democrats that likes Republicans too much, or do you think you can count on him for health care reform?
DEAN: I think we can count on him for health care reform. And the reason I think so is, if he doesn‘t want to do health care reform, my guess is he can‘t win a Democratic primary.
SCHULTZ: That would be a big one.
But I hear it every day. I mean, people want this done. But from a political aspect, why would the Republicans not want to signature some kind of success in moving health care forward in this country? They‘ve yet to really offer a plan, Howard.
DEAN: The problem, Ed, is understandable. It‘s foolish politics but it‘s understandable.
They‘ve just suffered a terrible defeat. They‘ve got to get their act together. But their party has shrunk so that the far right now is the vast majority of this party, and they can‘t win elections that way, but they can‘t seem to get out of their own way.
You know, we had to go through it in the ‘70s, when the left was too strong in our party. And now we‘ve moved back to the middle, thanks to Bill Clinton, of course now Barack Obama. And the country has moved, too. This younger generation is a center-left generation.
SCHULTZ: They want it.
DEAN: They are multicultural, they don‘t have these ideological hang-ups that our generation did either on the left or the right. They want progress, they want something done, and I think the president and the Democratic Congress is going to do that thing whether the Republicans want to join us or not. We‘d love to have them at the table, but so far all they‘ve said us is no.
SCHULTZ: Governor, good to have you with us. Good luck on your event tonight. It‘s a great thing.
Thanks so much.
DEAN: Thanks for the opportunity.
Republicans got together this weekend to gin up some new ideas and talk about rebranding the GOP, and the “Mr.” was there. And tonight, he makes it into “Psycho Talk.”
It‘s a fun one. That‘s next.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.
Have you heard some of the crazy things that are being said by conservatives?
That‘s right, it‘s time for “Psycho Talk.”
Oh, the Republicans got together at a restaurant for pizza in northern Virginia over the weekend to kick off a campaign to rebrand themselves, to reshape the party‘s image.
Now, you may ask, they‘ve got some new ideas? And where are they coming from? We haven‘t seen any new ideas.
Kind of a good question, but—so let me answer it for you.
They will come from none other than the same old familiar faces. This weekend‘s meeting showcased the ideas of House Minority Leader Eric Cantor; former Governor Jeb Bush; and the former governor of Massachusetts and Republican presidential candidate, the Mr. Mitt Romney.
Tonight I want to focus on “The Mr.”
He made some comments that I guess you could say are pretty funny and entertaining. But best of all, they showed a stunning lack of self-awareness. Romney invoked the spirit of the American Revolution, comparing the Grand Old Party to the Americans fighting the British during the Revolutionary War.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY ®, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are the party of the revolutionaries, they are the party of the monarchists. We‘re going to continue to be revolutionaries, and we‘re going to, in this council, come together and talk about our vision, our plans for each of the issues you‘ve spoken about, and make sure that we once again lead the American Revolution and keep America the strong and vibrant nation it‘s always been.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: I‘ll tell you what, it‘s the same old stuff.
“The Mr.” calling the Democrats the party of monarchists? This coming from a former governor who‘s the son of a former governor? A former presidential candidate who is the son of a former presidential candidate? He‘s also from the party who elected two Bushes as president and could have elected a third if the timing had been right.
Mitt, you‘ve fallen in daddy George‘s footsteps much like the kings. Calling the Democrats the monarchists with Romney‘s family history, now, that‘s a little out of hand, Mr. Mr.
Actually, it‘s kind of funny, but it does qualify for “Psycho Talk.”
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Arlen Specter isn‘t a Republican anymore. But is he a Democrat? Our next guest says he‘s not really sure. Specter supported the Iraq war enthusiastically. He said he would oppose the Employee Free Choice Act. He voted with Republicans against President Obama‘s budget, after he switched parties.
Now, President Obama said he will raise money and campaign for Specter in Pennsylvania. But is there room for another Democrat in all of this? Joining me now is the highest ranking former military officer elected to Congress. A lot of people want him to challenge Arlen Specter in 2010, Congressman Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania. Joe, good to have you back with us tonight.
REP. JOE SESTAK (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Thank you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Do you think Arlen Specter is Democrat enough to satisfy Pennsylvanians?
SESTAK: He certainly isn‘t yet. And that‘s probably the key question, Ed. I mean, what we really have before us is can the Democratic voters in Pennsylvania rely upon Senator Specter supporting the policies that we support until 2016, the end of his term? He switched his parties. If he now switches his vote, will he be consistent? Can you rely upon him?
Look, in the Navy, all I know is this—and I do need some time to watch him. But I know that you wanted that guy next to you, when you‘re in a foxhole or in a battle at sea, to stay there with you. OK. He‘s left. But now what‘s he going to do and how consistent can we rely upon him as voters for the future? That‘s the open question.
SCHULTZ: Congressman, do you think he moved for political reasons to save his hide?
SESTAK: I can‘t—I should not be the judge of that. I should not be. The Pennsylvania primary voters should. But I will say this: at a moment where too many Pennsylvanians have lost their job, it‘s not our responsibility to worry about his. He has said he didn‘t want his legacy judged by the Republicans in their primary.
Look, Ed, I agree. There‘s a lot of good Republicans. And he left those moderate Republicans behind. Why? I have yet to know. And if I don‘t get to know more than that, if our Democratic voters in this primary soon don‘t get the right answer what he‘s running for, then it does become a question of, if it‘s just for political survivability, that‘s not good enough in this economic war, with two wars overseas, and for the next six years.
SCHULTZ: And a poll that‘s out now, a Quinnipiac poll, has got Specter ahead of Toomey by 53 to 33. Also, if you put him up against Ridge, he still leads 46-43. Also, you‘ve got Democrats saying he deserves to be re-elected, 75 percent of them say that. Plus, you‘ve got the president of the United States saying that he‘s going to support him. Does any of this discourage you at all or change your thinking about a possible challenge?
SESTAK: You know, those poll numbers remind me of the day I got in, with eight months to go, only two months out of the Navy, and they were identical polls when I got in to run against Kirk Weldon, in a 53 percent Republican district. I think, as I said to you before, Ed, what Arlen Specter showed last week is the principle rule of politics: tomorrow is always another day.
I truly respect the president. But at the end of the day, there‘s no kings in America, no king makers. It‘s the Democratic voters that have to say, can we rely upon this man? And what policies does he support? Look, health care, that got put to the side in the ‘90s by Arlen. He voted, as you mention, for this Iraq war.
What‘s our energy policy even more. And even more, Pennsylvania is aging. So I need to know what he‘s for.
SCHULTZ: Congressman Sestak, here‘s one comment that caught my attention. He was on “Meet the Press” and he said this; here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (D), PENNSYLVANIA: You take a look at my record in the Senate or my record in public life generally, I‘ve always been for the little guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: For the little guy. I thought this Obama budget was for the little guy, when it comes to the stimulus package, when it comes to health care of 634 billion dollars, when it comes to the energy policy. If you‘re going to challenge him, Joe, you can‘t let him get away with that one. Is he for the little guy?
SESTAK: Here‘s what he hasn‘t been for. But let‘s see if he changes. Pennsylvania, the 50 percent of working families in Pennsylvania today earn less in real terms than in 2001. Health premiums are up 100 percent. Cost of public university education in Pennsylvania has gone up 75 percent. Arlen, if you‘re not going to change your vote or your policy, I can‘t say you‘re for the working family.
But let‘s wait. The public establishment, the political Democrat establishment in Washington said, he is. I‘ve got to give them due gist. But I got to tell you, Ed, at the end of the day, it‘s not but Arlen. It isn‘t about Joe Sestak. It‘s about, this is a tough future for my eight year and many Pennsylvanians. This is about an ideal and believing in policies and working with the leadership to change this nation‘s direction to the best it can be.
So, at the end of the day, mine and, more important, the political decisions made in voting will be done by the Democratic primary voters. Can they rely upon him? If not, it‘s time for a different individual to take the mantel of leadership for the party in Pennsylvania.
SCHULTZ: Congressman, good to have you on tonight.
SESTAK: Thank you for having me.
SCHULTZ: You bet. Republicans have one less senator on their side of the aisle. Has it scared them enough to take a look in the mirror? Let‘s turn to tonight‘s political panel, “Washington Post” correspondent, “New Yorker,” Ryan Lizza. Also, Democratic strategist Kiki Mclean, and nationally syndicated talk show host Michael Medved. He‘s the author of “The Ten Big Lies About America.”
Ryan, let‘s go to you first tonight. It sounds to me like the president doesn‘t want Arlen Specter to get challenged in Pennsylvania.
RYAN LIZZA, “THE NEW YORKER”: That‘s right. Look, they clearly made a deal. Specter took the best deal he could get. He couldn‘t win in the Republican primary. Look at the reasons why. You have 700,000 voters in Pennsylvania who changed their registration from Republican to Democrat. Those are Specter‘s people. Those are the people that helped him beat Republicans in previous primaries.
He‘s basically following those people into the Democratic primary. Ed, look, so he had a better chance with Obama on his side and those voters in the Democratic primary than he does with no Republican president and those voters absent from the Republican primary. Doesn‘t mean he‘s going to win. With a strong challenge from the left, with someone like Sestak, he‘s still vulnerable. But he‘s going to be the Obama Democrat in that race and that‘s very powerful.
SCHULTZ: Michael, how big a loss is this for the Republicans?
MICHAEL MEDVED, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, it‘s a loss of a crucial Senate seat. He had a lot of seniority. But Senator Specter was hardly a reliable vote for Republicans and he‘ll hardly be a reliable vote for Democrats. A lot of Republicans are excited the prospect of either Congressman Toomey or Governor Ridge challenging Arlen Specter. Say what you will about him.
I‘m sorry to see him go. I don‘t say good riddance like some of my colleagues do. But if you were running against somebody, wouldn‘t you want to run against someone who looked and sounded like 79 year old Arlen Specter?
SCHULTZ: Name recognition is probably one of the most important things when it comes to getting re-elected and being able to bring home the bacon is the big thing in politics. But Kiki, looking to the future, we‘ve gone through a midterm and been through the general election recently. Americans are willing to roll the dice. I mean, why wouldn‘t the Democrats in Pennsylvania want a guy like Congressman Sestak to step up and give him some competition to make the party better?
KIKI MCLEAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Congressman Sestak is one of the most honorable great guys in American politics, with a terrific record. You‘ve heard him today. He‘s not afraid to say what he thinks. I think people in Pennsylvania like that.
What he did today in this interview just now with you, Ed, is define the differences of where he and Arlen Specter are today. What you never know about with an election is how people view those differences on election day. He‘s clearly going to have to make that decision. And, as you said, that decision won‘t be about just, am I willing to take on Arlen Specter. It‘ll be, am I willing to take on Arlen Specter and a sitting president who‘s going to endorse him.
I would say to you that, from what I know of Congressman Sestak, he‘ll make a decision about what he thinks is best for him and the people he serves and he‘ll do it without regard to where the president is on this. I think he has a lot of respect for the president. But I think he‘s going to wait and see.
If you look at all of the big moments where people—leaders have switched parties, right, Richard Shelby from a Democrat to a Republican, Phil Graham, talk about a deal being made historically, the former senator from Texas, from being a Democrat to a Republican, in a famous story where he actually delivered information from one budget to another. It‘s always about where do they prove themselves in the long run. It‘s not today. It‘s the long run.
SCHULTZ: I would agree with you. But the one thing is that Americans want health care and they want jobs. And Ryan, if he‘s on the wrong side of health care reform, he‘s in trouble. And the challenger‘s going to have to smoke him out on that.
LIZZA: Absolutely. I think that‘s right. You talked before about energy and health care, too. Those issues in Pennsylvania may cut two distinct ways. Right? Energy is a very—a carbon tax or cap and trade, anything that‘s going to raise energy prices is controversial, even among Democrats in an energy producing state like Pennsylvania. So that‘s going to be tricky. I don‘t know where Sestak comes down on that.
One thing I would say, on the health care, we don‘t know where Specter is going to be. I think we have to assume at this point he‘s going to be in that centrist coalition trying to get something passed. But if you‘re the White House, why not have someone from the left pressuring him to make sure he‘s a pro Obama vote? If you‘re Obama, why not have Sestak out there threatening to run against him? It‘s good politically and it keeps pressure on Specter to shoot closer to the White House‘s voting.
SCHULTZ: Let‘s talk about GOP branding. Michael, they are going to have to do more than have a pizza party on this thing. I think if the Republicans are going to make a come back, they are going to have to signature something when it comes to health care. What are your thoughts?
MEDVED: You‘re 100 percent correct. Again, I think Republicans have to offer more than no. What they have to offer is some kind of health plan for that minority of Americans—and it is a minority of Americans—who aren‘t satisfied with their coverage. Ed, you know that the polls show that 60, up to 70 percent of Americans, like the coverage they have. I think the biggest thing Republicans have going for them is to build on that, and then to maybe even work together with some senators, moderate Democrats—what a thought—to try to put together a plan that is a real alternative.
And I thought Howard Dean was right with what he said. The key issue here is choice, giving the American people a choice, and not forcing people to pay for health care for your neighbor.
SCHULTZ: Kiki, how are we going to get new ideas out of Republicans when it‘s the same old names and faces?
MCLEAN: They have to start talking about it. When you look at the Democrats‘ model of when they sort of came out the wilderness with the Democratic Leadership Council and Bill Clinton, it was because there were a group of leaders who had a shared agenda. This group that went out this weekend, there was no shared agenda. The Democrats came out and said, we believe in opportunity, responsibility and community; and we‘re going to promotes policies like community policing, a balanced budget. That‘s what‘s going to represent our party.
Republicans haven‘t anchored this around any kind of value or policy.
SCHULTZ: Panel, stick around. We‘re going to do more. But first, we want to know who you think President Obama should nominate to the high court. Should the president pick a woman for the Supreme Court? Text a for yes, B for no. Send that to 622639, the numbers right there on your screen. We‘ll be back later to tell you more about it in the show and bring you the results.
The “Boston Globe” skirts bankruptcy, for now at least. Once again, it came down to the workers. The autos, the newspapers; who‘s to blame for what‘s going down? A page on the papers is next.
SCHULTZ: All right. In my playbook tonight, stop the presses, the blame labor game is happening again. This time, 137-year-old newspaper is at stake. Last night, the president of the “Boston Globe” newspaper guild, which represents 600 news room employees, brought management the ten million in cuts that it had asked for.
In return, management waved a copy of a 60-day shut-down notice in front of the union and said, do or die. Folks, there is an old saying in sales and in business, that sales solves a lot of problems. The newspaper industry has to realize that people just don‘t buy a newspaper the way they used to. Young people are using one of these. This is where it‘s happening now.
In fact, I even use this. It‘s simple. If I can do it, anybody can do it. Do you want to cart around one of these all the time? That‘s not happening anymore. If newspapers were so strong, why are all of their writers on television? They rely on web revenue or they can‘t make it. They are doing these two things for one reason, and that‘s branding.
And now they turn around and blame their problems on labor? No. The play here is to punt. Forget government money saving newspapers in this country, its content. The newspaper problem is not only content, but it‘s more about human habit than it is anything else.
That‘s my playbook tonight.
Also, coming up, a group of House Democrats, they are looking for answers on torture and wire tapping. They want to know if anyone‘s been lying. What they are doing about it next on THE ED SHOW. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Congressional Democrats aren‘t satisfied with closing the door on torture. They want the Bush administration officials held accountable. They want to investigate Bush era policies on torture, detention and wire tapping. And three of them are introducing a resolution to create a select committee to do just that.
Could a committee with subpoena power get the American people answers on torture? Joining me is Congressman Jerrold Nadler. Mr. Nadler, good to have you with us. He sits on the House Judiciary Committee, and chairs the subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
Mr. Nadler, are you getting any lead at all or maybe even a wink and a nod from the White House on this?
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: No, we are not getting any lead and really not a wink and a nod at all yet. I met with the attorney general almost a week and a half ago on this and on special prosecutor. And they mostly listened. They said they would get back to us, but they certainly did not encourage us. We said to them that it was imperative, that it was our duty under the law, that we would be breaking the law if we didn‘t investigate torture that we know occurred and, if warranted, prosecute.
SCHULTZ: And what did the attorney general say when you said that to him, that it‘s your duty, that you‘ve got to investigate, it‘s the law? What did he say?
NADLER: He indicated they were looking into it and they would make a decision.
SCHULTZ: So that‘s it? We are just looking into it? Did he give you any idea of when this decision might be taking place?
NADLER: No, but I got the idea that it‘s not going to be too long of a delay one way or the other. We asked him that and we asked him also about changing their position on the state secrets doctrine, several other things.
SCHULTZ: All right. Take us down the road. What do you want to happen and when? How would this all be structured?
NADLER: Well, Two things ought to happen. They both have to happen. They are separate, but they both have to happen. Number one, the American people have to know, and Congress has to know all of what really happened, so that we can, A—more importantly than holding people accountable, in that respect, so that we can design the system, change the laws, do whatever to make sure that behavior is proper in the future, that people aren‘t tortured, that people aren‘t wire tapped against the law and so forth.
And secondly, there has to be a proper criminal investigation by the Justice Department and, if indicated, if that‘s warranted, prosecutions, because nobody may be above the law.
SCHULTZ: What was your response when the president last week used the word mistake and he stayed away from the word crime? Sitting right there, I got a sense he don‘t want to go down this road.
NADLER: Well, I don‘t think he does. But I think he knows that it‘s not his right or duty to make that decision. We were very critical of the Bush administration for politicizing the Justice Department in the US attorneys case and others for deciding who to prosecute, who not to prosecute and so forth. It is not up to the White House. It would be an abuse of power for the White House to decide that there ought to be prosecutions or there should not be prosecutions.
That‘s up to the Justice Department, which is supposed to be independent in these matters. They have to investigate and make the decisions on a straight legal basis, where the facts indicate.
SCHULTZ: How many of you in Congressmen do you think are going to get on board with this?
NADLER: I don‘t know.
SCHULTZ: You don‘t have a sense whether it‘s the majority of Democrats?
NADLER: I think a lot—I think there‘s sizable support for this. We haven‘t whipped it and we haven‘t really discussed it in caucus. So I can‘t say.
SCHULTZ: All right. Congressman, good to have you with us tonight.
NADLER: Good to be with you.
SCHULTZ: I hope you go to the firewall on this one.
NADLER: We will.
SCHULTZ: Time to bring back our political panel, Ryan Lizza, Kiki Mclean, and also Michael Medved. What do you want politically. Michael, politically, would you love to see the Democrats do this?
MEDVED: Politically, it‘s a good thing for Republicans because I think it makes Democrats look bad. It‘s a bad thing for the county. We are in the midst of an ongoing war on terror. There was a report by the State Department, the Obama State Department, just on Friday, about over 2,200 murders by terrorists in Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons in 2008. It‘s a very dangerous world.
Right now, President Obama has executed his office. He has closed Guantanamo or indicated he will close Guantanamo. He stopped the policy of harsh interrogation. You can honestly disagree about this and about the past Bush administration policy, but criminalizing those disagreements and hitting people who sincerely tried to help their country and to defend this country from terror, to hit them with criminal prosecutions is exactly the wrong thing to do.
SCHULTZ: Kiki, I‘ll let you answer that one. Are you OK with that?
MCLEAN: Well, in fairness to Congressman Nadler, what he said is there are two things that have to be answered here. Number one, we have to really understand what happened so we can prevent it from happening again. And then secondly, there‘s the issue of whether there‘s prosecution to any of those people who were responsible for it.
There are a lot of people in America who really pushed for a change in administration because of the abuse of power that they had seen before, and they want to know that it‘s not going to happen again. If the answer to that question for the American people is in those hearings or special prosecutor, I don‘t think we know that yet. But I think it‘s right and appropriate to investigate those different opportunities to work that out.
SCHULTZ: I‘m starting to wonder, Ryan, what‘s the Obama administration afraid of? I understand the political ramifications. You want to play it safe. Don‘t want to overplay your hand. But to the Constitution, the future of the country, how do you let this go by?
LIZZA: Look, if I had to guess what I think they are most concerned about is the CIA and the people in the CIA who they felt that they stuck their neck out. They engaged in these practices. They thought they had the political cover from the Bush administration. And some of them now feel like the rug has been pulled out from under them.
He‘s looking at intelligence every day about what‘s going on in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That‘s his number one priority. I can imagine, from his perspective, he doesn‘t want an ongoing investigation.
SCHULTZ: He‘s got other fish to fry.
LIZZA: But I‘m with Nadler on this. We‘ve got to find out what happened. And to Michael‘s point, there‘s never a good time to investigate this kind of thing. Sure, we can all wait until the war on terror is over going to be over to do it, but when is that going to be?
SCHULTZ: Especially if you did it, Michael.
MEDVED: But there is a difference here. If you take a look at past investigations of high administration official—there‘s no question at all that during Watergate the Nixon people knew they were breaking the law. They knew they were violating it. What you have is some of the finest legal minds in America who disagreed on the interpretations of law.
SCHULTZ: The finest legal minds in America? Come on, Michael, you have got the Senate Armed Services Committee coming out with a report that says it goes all the way to the top. I think that sets the table, Kiki. You‘ve got to do something to respond on that.
MCLEAN: There has to be something to look at. President Obama, what I think he‘s doing is making sure that no avenues are cut off. He recognizes the role of the attorney general and the Department of Justice in this. He recognizes the role of what‘s gone on in top secret missions. He‘s laid out his positions clearly on torture.
What we have to be very careful of culturally is that we take responsibility and accountability for this, but we do not drown in an obsession of this that we can‘t move forward.
SCHULTZ: Kiki, thanks for joining us. Also, Michael, Ryan, thanks so much.
One last thing tonight. Before we go, we asked you all hour if you think President Obama should choose a woman for the Supreme Court. Here are the results: 93 percent of you said yes; seven percent of you said no.
That‘s THE ED SHOW tonight. I‘m Ed Schultz. For more information, go to Ed.MSNBC.com or go to my radio website at WeGotEd.com. We‘re on the radio in Boston, Massachusetts now at 1510. Coming up next “HARDBALL” on MSNBC with Chris Matthews.
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