Guests: Bill Press, Markos Moulitsas, Jim Moran, Sen. Bob Menendez, Tim Griffin, Jamal Simmons, Michael Crowley, Roger Simon
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: I‘m Ed Schultz. This is THE ED SHOW.
SCHULTZ: Good evening, Americans.
Live from 30 Rock in New York, it‘s THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.
Breaking news. A man that conservatives just despise, Al Franken, is on his way to Washington. For the first time in 30 years, the Democrats are getting a super majority in the Senate.
I want to see them get aggressive.
You want to know where the Republican Party is? They‘re right here.
The hypocrisy continues with Governor Mark Sanford. Now he says God wants him to stay in office, even as he admits to crossing the line with other women.
President Obama takes a major step towards ending the war in Iraq. And of course, Shooter goes on the offensive. He‘s back to his old script, fear mongering about more attacks.
Plus, “Psycho Talk.” All that and a great panel coming up, but first, tonight‘s “OpEd.”
For the first time in 30 years, one party has a filibuster-proof majority. A former “Saturday Night Live” player from this building right here, 30 Rock, author, liberal radio talk show host, he is on his way to the United States Senate.
Al Franken has defeated Norm Coleman in the Minnesota Senate race.
Here‘s what Franken said at a news conference late this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN.-ELECT AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: And as far as the 60 is concerned, there—you know, 60 is a magic number, but it isn‘t, because we know that we have senators who—Republicans who are going to vote with the Democrats, with the majority of Democrats on certain votes, and Democrats that are going to vote with the majority of Republicans on others. So it‘s not quite as a magic number as some people may say, but I hope we do get President Obama‘s agenda through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: I don‘t know about you, but I‘ve got to kind of clean out my ear on that one.
Folks, possibly, this could be the biggest shot in the arm the progressive movement has had in decades, and this should change the landscape and possibly the agenda for the Democrats.
Now, for weeks, we have been hearing “We don‘t have the votes” on things that concern you. Tonight, the way I see it, there are no excuses. The American people want change, and this sets the table for the Obama White House to turn up the heat on the conservatives and all these Bushies that are still hanging around Washington.
I think we know what the Bush White House and how they would have responded to this kind of political development. What do you think they would have done with 60 votes?
So, enough of all of this talk about bipartisanship. The country wants a public option on health care. We want changes in energy, education and the economy. And how about some oversight on Wall Street so that doesn‘t happen again?
Thirty-four weeks ago to this day, people in this country voted for change. It‘s time for the Democrats, starting next week, to start delivering some of the things that they were saying on the campaign trail.
I want the Obama White House to respond to this news. I want a line drawn in the sand. I want Chicago politics working for the working folks of America.
Now, here is the White House reaction, the quote. “I look forward to working with Senator-Elect Franken to build a new foundation for growth and prosperity, lowering health care costs, and investing in the kind of clean energy jobs industries that will help America lead the 21st century.”
OK. Now that we‘ve got all these generic statements out of the way, can we say it‘s time to change the country on a lot of different fronts?
Now, one other development tonight, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty says that he will sign the election certificate tonight. Pawlenty released that statement after Norm Coleman came out and conceded the election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NORM COLEMAN ®, FMR. SENATOR: The Supreme Court of Minnesota has spoken. I respect its decision and I will abide by its result. It‘s time for Minnesotans to come together under the leaders it has chosen and move forward, and I join all Minnesotans in congratulating our newest United States senator, Al Franken.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Boy, I‘ll tell you, that‘s a 180. It was just several months ago on the streets of New York I ran into Norm Coleman—in fact, right after I started this job—and I said, “Norm, what are you going to do?” He said, “I‘m going to the Supreme Court.”
I said, “You mean to the United States Supreme Court?” He said he was going to take it to the firewall.
I don‘t know what‘s changed in all of that. Maybe it‘s the money, but the fact is, he was a class act tonight even though one time he wrote letters to constituents in Minnesota and said, “Ed doesn‘t have enough radio listeners to be on Armed Forces Radio Network.”
Well, Senator, I have to tell you tonight, you don‘t have enough votes to be in the United States Senate. I‘m going to play hardball right back with you.
This has gone on too long. We knew how long—and I don‘t think the people of Minnesota have been served correctly. This has gone on too long, and we knew how this was going to end.
Give some credit to a guy that nobody expected was going end to up in the United States Senate, and that‘s Al Franken. Being a Minnesota resident, I can tell you that it was Al Franken who went out into the small towns, it was Al Franken who went to the Sunday night potlucks. It was Al Franken who went out and shook hands with the farmers and kicked a few tires, put the plaid shirt on and started ask questions about their life.
It was Al Franken who really did the due diligence in Minnesota to get this seat. He has earned this. And I think he‘s going to be a great senator when it comes to representing people.
And I will say this: I just can‘t imagine Al Franken tipping over to the special interests. That‘s not the Al Franken that I know. I don‘t think that they‘re going to be lining his pockets to get a vote. That‘s not his makeup.
He has earned this. I mean, anybody that writes a book saying that “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot” you‘ve got to admit is telling the truth.
For the first time since 1979, the Democrats have got a super majority in the Senate.
For more, let me bring in a couple of guys who are going to be high-fiving in this segment tonight. Let‘s bring in Markos Moulitsas, who is the publisher of “The Daily Kos,” and also my friend, radio talk show host Bill Press.
All right, Bill, give me some skin on this one. This is a victory here.
You know, are the Democrats going to get more aggressive now that they have the 60? If they can herd all the cats and do it correctly, this should clear the away for change in this country.
BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Ed, it should, but that‘s the big question. First of all, it‘s a huge victory, and you‘re right, Al Franken ran a magnificent campaign, he‘s going to be a great United States senator. But I think this is a test as to whether Democrats are willing to and able to lead, Ed.
They‘ve been hiding behind—you and I talked about this. They‘re hiding behind these 60 votes, which is BS. Well, now there‘s no excuse anymore.
They‘ve got the 60 votes, and I think what they‘ve got to do is forget the Republicans exist. Forget bipartisanship, take the Democratic agenda and do it now. There‘s never a better opportunity.
And if they don‘t now, they don‘t deserve to lead. I hate to say it, but get out of the way and get somebody in there who can lead. We‘ve got the 60 votes. Now‘s the time to push the agenda.
SCHULTZ: Markos, how do you think grassroots progressives in this country are going to respond to this news tonight?
MARKOS MOULITSAS, “THE DAILY KOS”: Well, I think to a certain level, we‘re a little cynical after hearing Harry Reid use that 60-vote crutch as an excuse for not getting things done.
MOULITSAS: Remember, eight years of George Bush, we never heard about 60 votes were necessary in the Senate to do get anything done; right? I mean, 52 votes, Republicans had a mandate.
Now we have this incredible reversal of fortunes in the Senate. The American people have spoken very, very loudly, very clearly that they want Democrats in charge. And yet, for some reason, Democrats still think that they need Republicans to sign on when the American people have so clearly rejected them. And if you look at the polling, they still continue to this very day to reject Republican governance.
So let‘s do it. Let‘s do what the American people have asked Democrats to do. And let‘s not use any excuses, like this 60-vote nonsense, which is now, obviously, no longer an issue.
SCHULTZ: Bill, do you think that the Obama White House is going to get a little bit more aggressive with the agenda now? I mean, there‘s been a lot of soft talking going on.
I mean, they‘ve just been embracing all this bipartisanship. It‘s almost like a fraternal conversation we‘re having. I mean, on the campaign trail, we got all this talk about change and what we‘re going to do in America.
Now, does this change—in your opinion, Bill, does this change the landscape when it comes to getting a public option in health care?
PRESS: Look, Ed, again, it should. I just am not sure, because we‘ve seen the White House go really soft in the last couple of weeks on the public plan option, on health care. They won‘t say—they won‘t draw the line in the sand.
We‘ve seen them go soft on taxing health care benefits. They haven‘t done anything about the Employee Free Choice Act since they‘ve been in office.
Again, Ed, I just jotted down—here‘s the agenda as I see it, right
the climate change Bill; Employee Free Choice Act; “Don‘t Ask, Don‘t Tell,” get rid of it; Defense of Marriage, throw it away; and health care reform with a public plan option with no taxing benefits. They‘ve got the votes right now. They ought to deliver them right now.
Again, Obama will never have a better chance. He has to stand up now, I think, tell Harry Reid, let‘s go, forget the Republicans.
SCHULTZ: And Markos, what will be the political pushback if they don‘t deliver on the things that Bill Press just labeled?
MOULITSAS: Well, it‘s going to be very hard to argue that we need to get more Democrats elected when the ones that we have at a super majority level aren‘t really delivering. I mean, what‘s the push here? At a certain level, you can‘t continue to make the claim that Democrats are better for governing the country if, when given this incredible and historic opportunity, they‘re failing to take advantage of it.
SCHULTZ: Markos, why do you think Senator Coleman had a change of heart? He told me that he was going to go all the way to the Supreme Court. Obviously, that changed within a matter of hours. What do you think his play was there? Is he going to run for governor in Minnesota?
MOULITSAS: It could be. I mean, it wouldn‘t be a bad move for him to lose again. He‘s lost, what, three or four times in this election cycle alone?
SCHULTZ: Well, he did lose to Jesse Ventura, professional wrestler.
Now he‘s lost to somebody off “Saturday Night Live.” But who‘s counting? When he goes up against real politicians, he normally has a pretty good chance of winning.
PRESS: Hey, Ed, you know, I think it was the money. You touched on it earlier. They spent $1 million trying to save his butt, and I think the Senate Republicans finally told him, hey Norm, go get a job, we‘re not spending any more money on you.
SCHULTZ: Well, OK.
Moving forward now, do you think that this will embolden—Bill Press, do you think that this will embolden some Democrats who maybe haven‘t been as vocal, who have fought for a long time, we‘ve got to go public option, we‘ve got to be strong on the liberal agenda? Now that we‘ve got this, they‘re going to be, you know, maybe the Barbara Boxers of the world.
What do you think?
PRESS: Look, I wish they were all as tough as Barbara Boxer to tell the truth.
Ed, I‘m an optimist. I‘m also a cynic; right?
I think so. I definitely think this ought to give all the Democrats enough backbone to push that Democratic agenda again without worrying about the Republicans. But I just question whether that‘s going to happen, because I‘ve seen them too wishy washy and too worried about compromise.
SCHULTZ: Yes. I know it‘s going to be on “The Daily Kos,” and I know it‘s going to be on “The Bill Press Show.”
PRESS: You bet.
SCHULTZ: It‘s going to be interesting to see if the Obama White House, you know, takes a shot of steroids on this deal and gets after it a little bit.
PRESS: Use it or lose it. Right? That‘s it.
SCHULTZ: That‘s right.
Fellows, good to have you on tonight.
Folks, I want to know what you thing. Get your phones out. We want to know what you think.
Now, we know President Obama should get more aggressive now that he‘s got the Democratic support of 60 Senate seats. But will he? What do you think?
Text “A” for yes and “B” for no to the number on your screen, 622639.
Standard text messaging rates apply.
We‘ll bring you the results later in the show tonight.
And finally, on this story, a look at the race by the numbers. It really is—well, it‘s gross. Fifty-one million dollars were raised between Coleman and Franken for the entire campaign. More than $50 million was spent between the two candidates. At least $11 million was spent on the recount alone; 2,424,946 votes were cast in the state of Minnesota. Do the math. Only 312 votes separated the candidates. It was the most open process we‘ve ever seen in American elections/
Since Election Day, a grand total of 238 days have passed. That‘s 32 weeks to the day before Minnesota got its number two senator in the United States Senate.
Did we need to go through all of that?
Coming up, the U.S. takes a major step towards getting out of Iraq. And, of course, Shooter is back out of his old playbook, fear mongering about more attacks.
This is all about putting Obama on the defensive. It‘s next on THE ED
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK H. OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, American troops have transferred control of all Iraqi cities and towns to Iraq‘s government and security forces. It‘s a part of our strategy to responsibly end the war by removing all American combat brigades from Iraq by next September and all of our troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: That was President Obama today.
You know, for the last four years, 80 percent of the Iraqi people have wanted U.S. forces out of the country. A recent poll shows that 73 percent of the American people favor the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces.
Now we‘re at that moment. We are pulling back, changing strategy.
Now, this is a campaign promise that the president is holding to.
The Iraqi president says they‘re ready, General Petraeus says they‘re ready, the commanders on the ground say that they‘re ready for the transition. There are celebrations in the streets of Baghdad because we are finally turning over security to the Iraqi people.
Guess who‘s against it? You got it, the war profiteer himself, Dick Cheney.
Remember, this is what it‘s about, folks—anything to make Obama look bad is the plan. Play the negative card, set the table for “I told you so.”
Here‘s Cheney‘s latest comments on it.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RICHARD CHENEY, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One might speculate that the insurgents are waiting, and as soon as they get an opportunity, they‘ll begin to launch more attacks. I would not want to see us waste all the tremendous sacrifice that‘s gotten us to this point.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Now, I thought that Dick Cheney said back in 2005 that the insurgents were in their last throes. Maybe I missed that.
Joining me now is Congressman Jim Moran, a founding member of the Out of Iraq Caucus.
Congressman, good to have you with us tonight.
What do you make of Cheney shooting his mouth off again, warning everybody of more attacks? Your take on that?
REP. JIM MORAN (D), VIRGINIA: It‘s great to be with you, Big Ed. But gosh, Cheney just—you know, it‘s hard to stay focused, it‘s difficult not to get angry about it.
He talks about sacrifice. Here‘s a guy that probably holds the record for deferments so that he never had to fight himself, and yet he sends us into a war of choice with no cause, no exit strategy, and now he‘s trying to keep us there.
All the money for that war has been borrowed, nearly $1 trillion, most of it from China, which really does endanger our security. And now Obama is trying to do the right thing by the Iraqi people and consistent with the will of the American people, and this guy is trying to stand in the way.
He should go down in history as the worst vice president ever. And if we want to know what to do, we look at him and do the opposite.
SCHULTZ: What if he‘s right? What if he is a soothsayer on this, that what he‘s talking about does come true? What should our reaction be?
MORAN: The reality is, we never should have gone to war in Iraq, Ed. Iran won the Iraq War. There‘s no question about it. And now he‘s trying to save face.
You know, I don‘t think we should have any reaction. I think we should ignore this guy.
SCHULTZ: Is this the beginning of the end, Congressman?
MORAN: He ruined America‘s reputation—huh?
SCHULTZ: Congressman, is this the beginning of the end? Do you really think that this is a start of where the American people—what they voted for and where they want to go?
MORAN: Well, I think we‘re going to have problems in Iraq. You know, they‘ve got 174 combat units, and only 17 are truly capable of dealing with the insurgents.
There‘s 94,000 Sunni awakening forces that were—enabled us to get out of that country because they joined our side. While none of them have been put to work, the Maliki government is still fighting internal battles, there‘s still a lot of corruption. The Kurds want to secede in the north.
You know, I think it‘s going to be a long time before we work our way out of that, but it‘s not up to us. It‘s up to the Iraqi people. And they want—they never wanted us in there and they want to us leave.
And I think we should advise them. I don‘t think we should use a whole lot of weapons, because those weapons are more often than not going to be used to kill each other off.
You know, if he had a decent plan to begin with, if he had earned any kind of credibility, I think we should listen to him. But right now it‘s just bloviating. You know?
SCHULTZ: All right.
MORAN: We know where he‘s coming from. He‘s the one that urged to us
make this mistake, and now he‘s wanting to make the mistake even costlier
by keeping us in a war we don‘t belong in.
SCHULTZ: Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia.
MORAN: But people can listen to him if they want. I‘d prefer not to.
SCHULTZ: All right.
Congressman, good to have you with us tonight. Appreciate your time. Thanks so much.
Next up on THE ED SHOW, “Psycho Talk.” Rush Limbaugh compares the health care bill to gang rape.
This is beyond the pale. Actually, this could be called “Sicko Talk.”
SCHULTZ: Oh, yes, never to disappoint us, “Psycho Talk” again tonight. We‘re sticking with “The Drugster” for a second day in a row.
He unfortunately seems to be obsessed with the “R” word, rape. This time, he‘s talking about health care reform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, isn‘t this good? Get ready to get gang-raped again, folks.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she will not give the public a week to review the final text of a health care reform bill. Hugo Chavez ain‘t got anything on us. The way this—this is the most leftward, radical leftist House of Representatives this nation has ever elected.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are now rapists. Even worse, they‘re going to gang-rape you.
You know, there‘s a pattern here. Limbaugh has this sick obsession, I think. He thinks that using that incredibly offensive word is just OK all the time.
A reality check for “The Drugster.”
The American people voted and they put Democrats in the White House, Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate. The American people want health care reform.
I mean, you can go back to “The New York Times” poll. Seventy-two percent of Americans want a public option. Fifty-seven percent said that they are willing to pay higher taxes so that all Americans can get health care insurance.
Rush, you‘re so out of the mainstream, but here‘s the deal—don‘t go around throwing the “R” word just because you didn‘t politically get your way. There are no sicker words out there to describe people and actions.
That‘s why it‘s “Psycho Talk.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: I know there‘s been a lot of talk about the fact that when I‘m sworn in, I will be the 60th member of the Democratic caucus. But that‘s not how I see it.
The way I see it, I‘m not going to Washington to be the 60th Democratic senator. I‘m going to Washington to be the second senator in the state of Minnesota. And that‘s how I‘m going to do this job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Big news for Democrats today. The Minnesota Supreme Court unanimously ruled Al Franken won the Senate race and should be seated. That means Democrats will have 60 seats in the Senate, a super majority, first time in 30 years. And I just don‘t want to hear we don‘t have the votes again. I mean, it‘s time, I think, for the Democrats to put it into overdrive.
Joining me now is Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign, and from the great state of New Jersey. You know what I‘m going to say. Senator, does this put the Democrats in a position to be more aggressive with the agenda?
SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY: First of all, Ed, let me just say, congratulations to Senator-Elect Franken. It‘s been the longest recount, probably, in election history. And Al showed me throughout this process what he‘s made of. I think the people of Minnesota got to see it, not only in the campaign and in the recount period.
And certainly, as he said, he‘s going to be the second powerful voice for the people of Minnesota in the United States Senate.
Look, I think it gives us a tremendous opportunity to move a progressive agenda ahead. It, obviously, changes the dynamics in the Senate. Even though we will continue to see Republicans say no to everything, which means that every single Democratic vote has to be there, has to be there physically to vote.
And while this is a great day, obviously, we still have challenges with Senator Kennedy‘s health and Senator Byrd‘s health. But hopefully they‘ll be back soon, and we‘ll be at full compliment.
SCHULTZ: Senator, do you think this changes the landscape on public option? Can the Democrats be more aggressive with this?
MENENDEZ: I certainly hope. I‘m a huge supporter of the public option. I believe it gives us real competition against the insurance industry. And it is just that, an option. It‘s an option that can create not only competition, but innovation, in terms of health care reform. And I think it‘s critical. I‘m know—I‘m pretty sure—I don‘t want to speak for Senator-elect Franken. But I‘m pretty sure he is one of those who believes that way as well.
SCHULTZ: Do the Democrats go band closed doors in the caucus and say, we don‘t have the votes? The American people out there tonight—and we‘re talking about a major shift here in the House and the Senate. The president won nine Bush states. He‘s got a high approval rating. I think a lot of liberals out there in this country are going to say, if you can‘t get it done now, when are you going to get it done?
MENENDEZ: Well, look, the reality is that we need 60 votes, voting and present at any given time, number one. We obviously have a few illnesses. That‘s the first challenge towards it.
Secondly, our caucus is not monolithic. And while, overwhelming, it is moving in a progressive agenda, and has had great success in five months -- we have passed a major omnibus bill, a major economic recovery package, equal pay for equal work, children‘s health care, FDA control of smoking, as well as the greatest land preservation in a quarter of a century.
That‘s a pretty progressive agenda. So we‘re going to continue to pursue that agenda. Obviously, we‘re going to have a little more strength to do it with Al Franken coming to the Senate.
SCHULTZ: The president offered a plan to reel in Wall Street, get some oversight. That‘s what I really think this vote is all about, this decision today. This really puts the Democrats in a position to make sure the country has some protections that what we went through on Wall Street isn‘t going to happen again.
MENENDEZ: I agree with you, Ed. Look, that‘s what we did in FDA, as it relates to a different topic, on tobacco. That‘s what we did in the credit card legislation that became law, had languished in the United States Senate for well over a decade, consumer protection.
That‘s what we‘re going to see in making sure that the financial institutions have to respond, because we need investor confidence and consumer confidence. And that doesn‘t come back unless we have the type of regulatory reform that gives that confidence to the investing public.
SCHULTZ: You know, the Republicans on some issues have openly said, drawn a line in the sand, no to public option. The posturing coming out of the White House has been, ah, bipartisanship, let‘s all get along. Isn‘t this an opportunity for the administration to go to the fire wall on some issues that President Obama campaigned hard on? Do you think that their demeanor is going to change at all?
MENENDEZ: Well, look, whenever we can, we would love to get the Olympia Snowe, the Susan Collins and others, who are willing to join us in common cause, on behalf of the American people. But I also think that it gives us the opportunity even to negotiate in a different posture. To the extent that we want to bring some bipartisan votes, it gives us a different dynamic.
SCHULTZ: And how‘s it put you in 2010? In better shape?
MENENDEZ: Well, we still have to work hard in 2010. Midterm elections of the president‘s party historically means we lose seats. We want to defy that history, and we want add a couple of votes to the 60 margin. Because, ultimately, whether it‘s somebody that has a health issue or somebody who has a different view as to how we achieve a goal, we want to be able to have that buffer to be able to do it.
We have 18 senators up for re-election in the Democratic caucus, five open seats. We‘re going to pursue them all and we‘re going to do it aggressively. And performance is going to be a big part of our success.
SCHULTZ: No doubt. Senator, keep it up, will you? Will you keep it up for public options?
SCHULTZ: There are so many Americans out there that want that. You‘ve got the people behind you. The president‘s got the people behind him. It‘s just got to happen.
MENENDEZ: I‘m with you.
SCHULTZ: I appreciate you working on it. I know how dedicated you are on that.
Let‘s bring in our panel. Michael Crowley is the senior editor of the “New Republic.” Jamal Simmons is a Democratic strategist and former DNC communications adviser. And Tim Griffin joins us tonight, Republican strategist and former deputy political director for the Bush White House.
Tim, I‘ll start with you tonight. What does it mean for the conservatives now to be looking at the possibility of a filibuster-proof Senate? What do you think?
TIM GRIFFIN, FMR. BUSH WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Well, I think the senator hit the nail on the head when he said, they‘ve got to have all the votes. What that‘s going to do is it‘s going to put additional pressure on senators from states where president—or where Senator McCain did well against President Obama.
For example, Senator Blanche Lincoln, she has been able to, on a host of issues—from Card Check to health care to cap and trade, she has been able to sort of play it coy and not put all her cards on the table. Now she‘s going to be in a position where I think she will get increased pressure from national Democrats and progressives like yourself to vote with the party.
So I think it‘s going to be really interesting. And you were just talking about 2010. It is going to be interesting to see how this impacts 2010, because what your party—what the Democrats, what the progressives want on the whole as a party doesn‘t necessarily bode well for some of the Democrats in southern states that are up for re-election in 2010.
SCHULTZ: Well, it looks like the Republican party is getting isolated into the south and that‘s it. Jamal Simmons, what about this 60th vote? Does this put pressure on the Obama White House to kick it into high drive?
What do you think?
JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know Ed, I actually think the Obama White House has been in high drive since January. As Senator Menendez just said, they‘ve been dealing with an economic crisis, pushing through a health care bill, pushing through an energy bill, pushing through financial regulatory reform. They‘re really going for the gusto on a lot of this stuff.
But remember, he‘s president of the entire United States of America. And the entire country is not Democratic. So he‘s got to at least make the effort to try to bring in Republicans. But now we know we‘ve got a safety valve. So if the Republicans don‘t want to play ball, we‘ve got enough Democrats to be able to pull this off just with Democratic votes, if everybody shows up, for health reasons or whatever else.
SCHULTZ: Michael Crowley, is there a chance that the Democrats could over-play their hands at this point and maybe turn off some folks rolling into the midterms? Do they really have to watch their Ps and Qs. I said earlier in the program, I know what the Bush White House would have done with 60 votes. I think Americans can pretty much imagine how that would have worked. But is there a chance that the Obama team could over-play their hand? What do you think?
MICHAEL CROWLEY, “THE NEW REPUBLIC: Well, I think there is a chance that could happen. It cuts both ways. On the one hand, Obama has a big, ambitious agenda right now. He‘s pushing it. We‘ve gone through some of the line items. We‘ve talked about health care and climate change and financial regulatory reform.
But on the other hand, Ed, this 60th vote is not a magic wand which means suddenly all those things are going to happen. Obama is having trouble not just with Republicans, but with some Democrats as well. They had to twist arms in the House to get that cap and trade bill passed the other day. There‘s going to be problems getting health care done in the Senate.
So Obama is still working on his own guys, still working on the Democrats. And 60 votes is a nice round number, but you would have to have every single Democrat to vote together to have that 60 to break filibusters. And that just usually doesn‘t happen.
So I guess I would say that his agenda is ambitious, but he still has his work cut out for him.
SCHULTZ: Gentleman, I have to tell you, I‘ve got a mind like an elephant when it comes to this stuff. Out on the campaign trail, many times, people would ask what‘s going on? And a lot of these Democratic candidates would say, well, I‘m going to go there and really support you. I‘m going to go there and work for you; but, you know, we do need 60 votes. I mean, that was the punch line to get out of any jam that they got in on the campaign trail.
Jamal, you know that‘s true. So there‘s going to be a grassroots effort, I think, in the blogs and in the—you know, in the information age—to make sure they deliver. I think it‘s deliver time. And how do you think—like, for instance, on Sunday, here‘s David Axelrod on “Meet the Press,” somewhat kind of passive on this public option thing. Then you‘ve got Lindsey Graham saying no, it‘s not going to happen.
So when does it change? When does it change the game, Jamal?
SIMMONS: Again, what the Obama administration I think is doing is they have a posture of cooperation and conciliation. But if you notice, they have won about every major fight they‘ve taken on in the Senate. So while their style might be a little discomforting to Democrats who are ready to punch through it, in the result, at the end, they get what they want and they get it done.
GRIFFIN: But, Ed, I think at the end of the day, you‘re right, they‘re going to have nowhere to hide when people like you and people on the blogosphere are trying to hold them accountable. They‘re going to have nowhere to hide. They‘ve either got to put up or shut up.
SCHULTZ: Tim, tell me now. You were there in the Bush White House, what would you have done with 60 votes? Come on, you would have kicked it into high drive. You know you would have.
GRIFFIN: I can tell you what, we certainly would have done the things that we thought the American people wanted.
SCHULTZ: There you go.
GRIFFIN: There is a bit of tentativeness, it seems, and I think that has to do with the fact that while you may have 60 Democrats, you don‘t necessarily have 60 progressives. And this is still a center-right country.
SIMMONS: I know you want to get mike in here, but Ed—Ed, what has the Obama administration not gotten that they‘ve wanted?
SCHULTZ: Public option. It‘s not there. They‘re not drawing a line in the sand.
SIMMONS: We don‘t have a bill yet.
SCHULTZ: But, wait a minute—
GRIFFIN: How about card check?
SCHULTZ: But it sounds like they‘ve surrendered on that. They‘re asking for it if they can get it. They‘ve got to get bipartisanship. I‘m saying now, you have 60 Democrats that can guarantee the American people you are going to have a public option, period, line in the sand. That‘s what the American people want.
CROWLEY: And you have a popular president driving this agenda. A lot of Republicans are saying this is like Bill Clinton all over again and we‘re going to sweep back in the midterms. But Bill Clinton didn‘t even have a majority when he was elected president in 1992. You have a president who‘s very popular. And when he puts the squeeze on, you really might start seeing some of these senators fall in line.
SCHULTZ: Gentleman, we‘re coming back. Great topic tonight. It‘s a hot one. Earlier in the show, I asked you what you think. Will President Obama get more aggressive now that the Democrats have 60 Senate seats? More than 1,200 of you responded; 74 percent of you said yes; 26 percent of you said no.
Coming up, you know, this guy from South Carolina, Mark Sanford, he must be nuts. He‘s not only a hypocrite, he‘s completely delusional. Hey, governor, you can‘t keep invoking god when you‘re cheating on your wife. That‘s next in my playbook.
SCHULTZ: In my playbook tonight, Mark Sanford, governor of South Carolina, is hanging on his political future with his fingernails. And now he says god wants him to keep his job. Exploiting his wife, his kids, his staff and the people of South Carolina, that‘s not enough. Now he‘s got to get the big guy involved, right?
Let‘s rewind this for a play-by-play of what‘s come down. First, Sanford compares himself to King David, the king appointed by god to lead his chosen people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. MARK SANFORD ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: I‘ve been doing a lot of soul searching. What I find interesting the story of David and the way in which he fell mightily. He fell in very, very significant ways. But then picked up the pieces and built from there. And it really began with, first of all, a larger quest that I think are well expressed in the Book of Psalms on the notion of humility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Twittering, Facebooking, websiting, all that stuff; humility, is this guy for real? Stop searching your soul, governor, stop being mesmerized by your own reflection, and just do the job. Will you?
Then last night he goes online to campaign, trying to validate himself and get support. Most guys when they‘re in crisis, they take it to the family and they work within. This guy is publicizing it to the world. here is what he wrote to his supporters: “I had thought I would resign as I believe in the military model of leadership, and when trust of any form is broken, one lays down the sword. A long list of close friends has suggested otherwise, that for god to really work in my life, I shouldn‘t be getting off so lightly.”
Governor, stop hiding behind your plastic Jesus and face the consequences of your actions.
Then today, we find out, there‘s more? Sanford, you know what he‘s doing? He‘s doing this so he can collect a check. And if you‘ve lost your job in America, you know what it‘s like not to have that check coming in. He‘s taking the easy way out by appealing to the social conservatives and the religious conservatives, feel sorry for me. He‘s going on the Internet, trying to gin up a bunch of support.
He‘s such a holier than thou guy. How can the folks of South Carolina put up with this? Demand this guy‘s resignation, all of you, and get it done.
Roger Simon joining me on this issue tonight, chief political columnist for “Politico.”
Roger, what am I missing here tonight, if anything?
ROGER SIMON, “POLITICO”: Nothing. I think you got it. This is a guy on the brink of some kind of collapse. He is confused. He wants forgiveness without atonement. He thinks saying you‘re religious is a get out of jail free card, not only literally, but metaphorically. And it just doesn‘t work that way.
Here is a guy who abandoned his job, disappeared, didn‘t tell anyone where he was, had law enforcement searching to see if he‘d been kidnapped or killed, to go off and be with his lover. It‘s fine with me if he wants to go off and be with his lover. But he ought to resign his day job.
I don‘t think Mark Sanford is capable of running the state of South Carolina and running his love life simultaneously. I think, clearly, this guy is on the edge of a breakdown.
SCHULTZ: What do you make of the Facebooking, the Twittering, the communication in cyberspace on this? It‘s almost like he‘s reaching out for validation and support. There‘s a real sad element to all of this.
SIMON: I think you‘re right. I think it‘s validation and support. I think it‘s also the constant need to be in the public eye and to feed his ego. More than a paycheck, this guy does to the want to give up the limelight. When you‘re a governor, that‘s a pretty big deal. If he gives that up, if he resigns just to get his own life together, to get his family‘s life together, he would have to give up that limelight. And so far, he doesn‘t seem willing to do it.
SCHULTZ: Can he rehabilitate himself politically and stay on as governor in your opinion, Roger?
SIMON: I don‘t think so. Because, I mean, he‘s not the first guy to have an affair; he‘s not the first guy in public office to have an affair. You know, and conservatives are saying, oh, you never want to mention Bill Clinton; he had an affair. The difference between Bill Clinton and Mark Sanford is Bill Clinton showed himself able to have an affair, a deplorable affair, but also to do his day job. He didn‘t disappear for a week and high tail it to a foreign country.
And also, in the aftermath of that affair, he was able to do the job of president. I don‘t think Mark Sanford, at least until now, up until now, is showing himself capable of doing the job of governor, number one. And number two, for his own personal, emotional health, I think he should step down and try to, you know, get some help.
SCHULTZ: What does it mean that—the story out today that he admits that there was other involvement with women, but not sexual, but he crossed the line? To me, I thought, well, this guy is completely disfocused. He‘s got his mind elsewhere, and not on the job of getting it done.
SIMON: I know. He‘s talking about, you know, I crossed the line with a handful of women, but I didn‘t cross the sex line. You know, is this guy 16? This is a 49-year-old man. He‘s talking about whether he got to second base or third base.
I don‘t care. It‘s just not the way you expect important public servants to behave. He‘s got a big job to do. These are tough times for the people of South Carolina. And they need somebody who‘s got his act together as governor.
SCHULTZ: Roger Simon, great to have you with us tonight. Thanks so much.
SIMON: Thank you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Coming up, the McCain campaign got burned by Sarah Palin. Now McCain staffers are trying to take her down. One McCain ally even called Palin and her team a Little Shop of Horrors during the election.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Now, here‘s some summer reading for you. “Vanity Fair” has got a big article on Sarah Palin. Writer Todd Purdum does a tell-all; one McCain campaign friend called Palin a Little Shop of Horrors on the trail. All of her little team together, working, right? Another accused her of narcissistic personality disorder. If that‘s not getting thrown under the bus, I don‘t know what is.
They also said that she was not up on the issues, ill-informed, and unwilling to learn. Even a liar? Holy smokes. Our panel, Michael Crowley, Jamal Simmons and Tim Griffin. What do you make of this?
CROWLEY: Well, Sarah Palin is the gift that keeps on giving for political junkies. You love nothing more than a politician whose aides go out and start telling stories.
But listen, I think this is, first of all, a continuation of what was happening during the campaign. It was actually more scandalous when they were saying this when she was actually still running for office. It shows you how deeply they felt it. But I also think it shows that everywhere she goes, there‘s going to be this cloud of controversy and back biting. And I think it‘s going to be really hard for her to make a serious run, to get back on her feet as a serious national figure.
There‘s just always going to be this sort of mayhem around her, kind of a circus, this traveling circus.
SCHULTZ: Tim Griffin, you were in the Bush White House. If you were working with Sarah Palin right now, what would you tell her in the wake of this damaging article in “Vanity Fair?”
GRIFFIN: Well, I think—look, I know most of those McCain—unnamed McCain staffers. They‘re friends of mine and they‘re professionals. I think, ultimately, this is something that you have to put at Senator McCain‘s feet. And if I were advising her today, I would say, you‘ve got to stop this pettiness and you‘ve got to rise above it.
I mean, on several occasions, she has gotten down in the weeds, like a schoolgirl, in some instances, just back and forth with the blogs and what have you. And I would say, you‘ve got to cut that out. If you‘re really serious about a national future, you‘ve got to act serious.
And it‘s one thing to be governor of Alaska, it‘s another thing to be a presidential candidate.
SCHULTZ: Jamal, it looks to me like somebody‘s trying to deep six Sarah Palin for 2012. What do you think?
SIMMONS: You know, I‘ve worked on a lot of campaigns, and a few losing ones. I‘ll tell you, the one thing that you really don‘t want to do as a staffer is to start telling tales out of school about your campaign and your candidate. And if all these Bush staffers are willing to go this negative this publicly on Sarah Palin, that means that it‘s worse than what they told Todd Purdum about.
Michael Crowley wrote one of the best campaign books that‘s out there, and he did it as a graphic novel, with some comic book cartoon characters. And I think that‘s perfect for the Sarah Palin portion, because these guys certainly have turned this thing into a circus.
SCHULTZ: Mark Sanford, what do you think, should he resign?
CROWLEY: I think so. He fundamentally didn‘t fulfill his obligations to the state. He wasn‘t there. He disappeared. A lot of these politicians can say, my private life is my own, but this was in the public realm.
SCHULTZ: Tim, what do you think?
GRIFFIN: I would say, first of all, stop talking, too much information. This is getting ridiculous. This guy makes me sick. And I‘m a conservative Republican with roots in the south. Whether he can get his focus back on his job and stay in office, I‘ll leave that up to the people of South Carolina. But I tell you, he‘s got to stop talking and he‘s got to stop talking about past girlfriends.
I feel for not only his children, but his wife, who has shown incredible graciousness throughout this thing. And he is just heaping coals on her head. It‘s unbelievable.
SCHULTZ: I don‘t get the cyberspace information highway that he‘s doing. I just don‘t get any of that at all.
Gentleman, thanks for joining us tonight. We‘ll have you back. That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz. For more information on THE ED SHOW, go to Ed.MSNBC.com or check out my radio website at WeGot Ed.com. Town hall meeting coming up in Madison on July 19th. “HARDBALL” starts right now.
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