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'The Ed Show' for Thursday, September 3, 2009

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Tom Tancredo, Roy Sekoff, Ryan Grim, Jonathan Alter, Joan Walsh,

Tim Griffin, Tom Harkin, Charlie Kyte, Amy Klobuchar

ED SCHULTZ, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Americans.  I‘m Ed Schultz. 

This is “The Ed Show.”

So the president can‘t talk to your school kids.  I‘ll get to that story in a minute. 

But the big story, the one that‘s really gripped me today is the rhetoric that‘s out there.  We‘re back to the president being on the side of the terrorists.  He‘s obsessed with terrorists. 

That‘s according to Oklahoma Republican Senator Jim Inhofe.  This is what happens at these crazy town hall meetings.  I think these old 74-year-old guys just get rolling and they don‘t know what to say.

Last night he was fear-mongering big time and flat out lying to his own constituents out in Oklahoma.  It was a classic GOP playbook of hate, fear and failure. 

Quote number one, Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma, “I never dreamed I would see an administration try to disavow all the things that have made this country different from all others.  Every institution that‘s made this country the greatest nation in the world is under attack.” 

Under attack?  Senator Inhofe is a staunch denier of climate change as well.  Last night he repeated the bald-faced lie to his constituents.  Quote, number two, “More and more each month that goes by, more scientists agree with me that global warming is a hoax.”  That‘s another intelligent one. 

Inhofe then moved, of course, to national security, telling Oklahoma voters that the president of the United States is working with our enemies.  Here it is, quote, psycho talk number three, “President Obama is obsessed with turning terrorists loose in America.” 

Inhofe closed by telling Oklahomans that the country is endangered and hopes that we can survive.  “Those of you who think like I do, do hope that this country can hang on for another 16 months.” 

You know, I don‘t have to tell fair-minded, thinking Americans that this truly is psycho talk, but it‘s really more than that, folks.  It‘s really irresponsible. 

When an elected lawmaker, a senator who has served this country for many years, says things like this to his constituents, you know that it does?  It opens up the floodgates to these crazies that show up at town hall meetings. 

This is doomsday talk.  How constructive is this?  It‘s not.  An elected senator is talking about survival, and people are bringing guns to town hall meetings to see the president. 

These things, in my opinion, they are very connected.  The sound culture of America plays and it plays hard.  The repetitive messaging is working on some, let‘s say, lesser challenged news consumers. 

Now, the Republicans have moved from, here it is, Obama won‘t keep us safe to Obama is a threat to your survival.  It‘s damaging, it‘s destructive, it‘s a flat out lie.  The Republicans have no solutions to any problems when they talk like that. 

I‘m not even sure they understand today‘s problems.  You‘re talking about Senator Inhofe at 74 years old, Chuck Grassley at 75 years old.  They‘re not happening dudes, if you know what I mean. 

I don‘t think they understand with the way they talk what families are going through in this country when it comes to the basics of health care.  If they lost their jobs, not a problem, they got excellent taxpayer funded insurance.  In fact, they get Medicare.  That‘s a single payer system, by the way. 

Now, the Republicans really are a party of rigid thinkers, clinging to the past, no new ideas.  They‘re struggling with this old conservative thinking that just doesn‘t work for young families in this country anymore.  They‘re out of touch with what reality is and what families are facing because it‘s about the money to them. 

But when you see elected officials, public servants, telling voters that the president of the United States is a threat to their survival, it‘s way over the line.  It‘s way over the line.  It‘s not good for public discourse.  And it sets the table for something really dangerous happening. 

It‘s not fear-mongering, it‘s hatemongering, it is hate speech.  And it‘s not well-researched.  It‘s just trying to get a reaction. 

Well, you got one senator.  Oklahomans, you ought to be embarrassed that this stooge is your senator.  He is off his rocker.  He‘s not being fair to the troops, that‘s not being fair to the people who have laid down their lives for this country.  That‘s not freedom of speech, that‘s hate speech.  That‘s not what we are.  That‘s not what America is all about. 

Now, we‘ve got this big speech coming up in front of the joint session of the Congress.  The president is going to go out there, and keep in mind, these are the people he‘s trying to cut a deal with on the biggest domestic issue in the country.  These people are supposed to be the fair brokers in all of this, that, hey, he‘s one of the gang of six.  We‘re supposed to go out there and respect these folks? 

I want to know what you think.  Will President Obama get tough on Republicans next Tuesday when he speaks to the Congress?  It will be Wednesday.  Text “a” for yes and “b” for no to 622639.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show. 

Who can defend this?  For more, let me bring in a couple of guests tonight—Roy Sekoff, founding editor of Huffington Post, and former congressman Tom Tancredo, obviously a Republican. 

Tom, we‘re going to start with you tonight.  I‘m passionate about this.  I think this has gone too far, and the thing that bothers me the most, Tom, with all the Hitler stuff, with all the survival talk, with all the threat to America, not once has the Republican leadership ever stood up and said these aren‘t our people. 

Isn‘t it about time to do that, Mr. Tancredo? 

TOM TANCREDO, FORMER GOP CONGRESSMAN:  Where were you, Ed, where were you when we had a different president in office and I can remember Democrat members of Congress wanting the government, if I‘m not mistaken, Democrats saying that our troops were storm troopers? 

I remember people calling Bush a Nazi.  I remember—

SCHULTZ:  Who did that?  I got to ask you—wait a minute, Tom, hold on, time-out.  If you‘re going to make statements, who called President Bush a Nazi?  I‘m going to let you talk. 

TANCREDO:  Every time you turned around, somebody was. 


TANCREDO:  I do not know the name right now. 


SCHULTZ:  Mr. Tancredo, I‘m giving you direct quotes of a sitting United States senator, and you‘re coming back and telling me they called Bush a Nazi.  I‘m just asking you who did it? 

TANCREDO:  I gave you McDermott.  He is a member of Congress, he is a Democrat.  He was on the floor of the House calling the members of the American military storm troopers. 

I mean, (inaudible) and the words that are used by people when they get into public office and certainly when they get into heated debate, I don‘t doubt for a minute that some go over the top.  But I‘m telling this is not anymore significant then the same things I heard when Bush was the president. 

But let‘s talk about—

SCHULTZ:  OK, you made your comment.  Tom, hold on.  You made your comment. 

I never saw anywhere in the news a Democrat carry a picture to any kind of a rally with a picture of Adolf Hitler putting him with a characterization of Bush.  Never saw that. 

I‘m just asking you, Tom, isn‘t it time to wind this stuff down? 

TANCREDO:  What you have referred to just now, by the way, was an individual, a citizen who did something that we can both say is stupid. 

SCHULTZ:  Why don‘t the Republican party...


TANCREDO:  Are you really saying...

SCHULTZ:  Why doesn‘t the—hold on. 

TANCREDO:  You don‘t think things like this happened before in the Bush administration? 

SCHULTZ:  Not at this level.  No way.

TANCREDO:  Ed, come on.  It didn‘t hit you the same way because you were on their side.  But believe me, it was just as frenetic, the kind of comments made about Bush by individual Americans, and even by members of Congress were just as wild and crazy as anything I‘ve heard from Inhofe. 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s your answer.  Nothing has changed.  The liberals did this too. 

Roy Sekoff, got to give you a response to this. 

ROY SEKOFF, HUFFINGTON POST:  Ed, the reason they can‘t disavow it is because it is them.  The fringe has become the main stream.  It‘s one thing when the lunatics are running the asylum, but now the lunatics are running the GOP.  And that‘s what we‘re seeing right now. 

It‘s a concerted effort to make a cartoon caricature called President Obama, who holds no—he‘s un-tethered from reality, this image that they‘re creating.  He‘s obsessed with setting terrorists free, according to them.  That‘s the problem. 

It‘s now senators.  It‘s Grassley who says we want to pull the plug on grandma.  It‘s Inhofe saying he‘s obsessed with terrorists.  That‘s the problem.  They don‘t have anybody else. 

SCHULTZ:  Here‘s one thing, I think we‘re seeing a pattern.  This is Republican elected officials.  These are talk show hosts.  These aren‘t cable guys. 

Michele Bachmann talked about slitting her wrist and becoming blood brothers, OK, to stop health care.  Senator Lamar Alexander is now saying there‘s going to be a minor revolution if the Democrats go reconciliation in the Senate. 

You have Inhofe now saying that the president is obsessed with turning terrorists loose on American streets.  And now they‘re questioning the president, whether he can speak to schoolchildren in this country. 

Mr. Tancredo, I promise you I will not interrupt you for the next 60 second.  I‘m just asking you, when is the Republican Party going to ratchet this down and get to the issues instead of vilifying the president of the United States and comparing him to Adolf Hitler? 

TANCREDO:  The Republican Party isn‘t comparing him to Hitler.  Some people use that phraseology. 

But the fact is this, that you‘ve got a person in the White House today who is a fringe element of the Democratic Party.  He pushes stuff that is far, far more left wing, far more liberal than anybody else has ever pushed. 

And why would you think that there wouldn‘t be a response to that just about as dramatic as what they are facing?  When the guy is trying to take over at least a sixth of the economy through health care, and when he talks the way he does about his belief that the government way is better, not just his verbiage, but his actions. 

He is the most left-wing president we‘ve ever had.  You should not be surprised, Ed, there is a response from the right. 


Well, it‘s a rotten response is what it is.  It‘s not a response of issue.  I want to give you one more quick shot, here, Tom, if I may.  Where is the radical?  The whole country must be radical because we elected Barack Obama.  What is the most liberal thing about Barack Obama?

TANCREDO:  There is a huge buyers‘ remorse underway right now because people see who he is. 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s not what the numbers say. 


SEKOFF:  His approval rating is still very high, Ed.  You put your finger on it when you said this was dangerous.  This is dangerous, and you can easily dismiss it and say he‘s just 74, he‘s not a happening guy. He‘s a little crazy. 

But they tried to dismiss it when the John Birch Society questioned John F. Kennedy‘s patriotism on November 22, 1963, and we saw how that turned out.  You can‘t dismiss this.  This is getting dangerous, it‘s getting crazy. 

SCHULTZ:  I think we as broadcasters—go ahead, Tom.

TANCREDO:  Only because—“dangerous”—using words like that to describe dissent in this country—Do you remember Hillary Clinton screaming out there that dissent is a right and responsibility of every American, because people were dissenting against the war in Iraq and doing so...

Tom, this isn‘t dissent.  Tom, tom—

TANCREDO:  She defended it.  She said it‘s everybody‘s right to do so. 


SCHULTZ:  This is not the kind of dissent—

TANCREDO:  What happened to these open-minded liberals? 

SCHULTZ:  This is not the kind of dissent secretary of state Hillary Clinton was talking about.  There‘s a big difference of the discussion of decency and what they are portraying Barack Obama to be. 

TANCREDO:  Only in the mind of the liberals. 

SKEOFF:  They‘re trying to undercut everything that made this country great.  It‘s just factual lies. 

SCHULTZ:  He can‘t wait to bring terrorists on our soil.

SEKOFF:  Can‘t wait.

SCHULTZ:  Tom Tancredo, good to have you with us.  Thanks so much for being with us tonight. 

I think it is dangerous, and it needs to stop.  And it doesn‘t stop.

Schools are censoring the president of the United States.  The right wing wackos, have they officially taken over the country? 

Plus, righty hypocrisy turns on those Republican senators who keep warning us about the evils of socialized medicine, having been using the government-run hospitals for their own care.  Let‘s see, Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Kit Bond, let‘s talk about your medical record. 

And how about the Washington Redskins?  They have pulled a fast one on their fans.  What a rotten thing to do.  They‘re suing people who lost their job and couldn‘t pay for their tickets.  It‘s all coming up on “The Ed Show.” Stay with us.  You‘re watching NBC.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to “The Ed Show.”

The hypocrisy of the GOP is out of control.  We know that.  They spent the entire summer fear-mongering about a fictional, supposedly catastrophic government takeover of health care. 

Meanwhile, they seemed to forget all the freebees they‘ve been getting, like life-saving procedure they receive from a government-run hospital. 

“The Huffington Post” had a very telling piece on this today.  Joining us now is Senior Congressional correspondent for “The Huffington Post” Ryan Grim to talk about it.  Ryan, just exactly what are some of these complainers about a government-run program, what are they doing and what are they getting? 

RYAN GRIM, HUFFINGTON POST:  Well, as we know, they have some of the best health care coverage in the United States by being members of Congress, taxpayer funded health insurance. 

But not only that, they get an extra part that they get to go to Bethesda naval hospital whenever they need surgery.  And a number of Republicans have very wisely availed themselves of this opportunity over the last several years and gone to this hospital to get this top-shelf health care, top-shelf surgery from some of the best doctors in the country. 

SCHULTZ:  So make sure we‘ve got this right.  The very people who are railing against the possibility of a government-run medical system, they‘re not going back to their home state and getting the private sector or their favorite specialist in their hometown to do whatever work.  They‘re going to the government-run hospital at Bethesda naval hospital, I have that right? 

GRIM:  It‘s telling, because their insurance is so good they could go out and get the best private sector health care that money can buy, yet they‘re choosing to go to this government-run hospital because it is run so well.  It‘s one of the best out there. 

SCHULTZ:  Choice is a wonderful thing, isn‘t it?  Let‘s see what Mitch McConnell has said as of late.  He‘s of course the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell.  A government-run health care system means “care and treatment will be either delayed or denied.” 

But back in February of 2003, McConnell had coronary artery bypass at Bethesda Naval hospital. 

How about our good friend John McCain?  Has he ever accessed any of these services, or did he go back to his favorite doctor in Arizona?  On August 27th, last week, it was Senator McCain applauded protestors for their revolt against a government-run health system, although back in May of 2000 he had surgery to remove a melanoma at Bethesda Naval hospital. 

And let‘s not leave out our old friend, Roy Blunt, who has had a couple of procedures.  He didn‘t go back to Missouri, back to the private sector.  What he did after saying on July 8th of 2009 a government-run plan would be like “an elephant in a room full of mice.” 

But back in June of 2002, left kidney removed at Bethesda, prostate surgery in 2003 after cancer diagnosis at Bethesda Naval. 

Is this not the height of hypocrisy?  What do you think, Ryan?

GRIM:  It is, but when you step back a little, none of it is actually surprising either.  Everybody knows that the government can run health care efficiency.  Everybody also knows that the government can screw it up like they did with Walter Reed. 

Now, private insurers can also screw it up.  The problem comes when things get calcified and when there‘s no competition between different hospitals, different insurance plans, different doctors, and people just plod along. 

In the United States today, there effectively is no competition among the private insurers because in regions they just have near total dominance of a market.  So that‘s why Democrats are pushing to have a public option that would compete against these private insurers. 

And, as far as we know, a number of these Senate Republicans might opt into this public plan. 


SCHULTZ:  They might. 

Ryan Grim, “Huffington Post,” good to have you with us tonight. 

Thanks so much. 

GRIM:  Glad to be here.

SCHULTZ:  I just think that McConnell and McCain and Blunt, why don‘t you just reverse your position, or at least tell the American people why you didn‘t go to the government run hospital and you didn‘t go to the private sector? 

Certainly as an elected official, senator, congressional leader, you ought to be able to get a good doctor in your own home state instead of going to Bethesda, that government run outfit. 

Up next, I think G. Gordon Liddy needs to have his eyeballs examined at a government hospital.  You won‘t believe what he says he—you won‘t believe what he says about these town hall meetings.  I‘m going to blow his in psycho when we come back.


SCHULTZ:  It‘s time now for “Psycho Talk” on “The Ed Show.”

Convicted felon and radio talk show host G. Gordon Liddy is in our news tonight.  He thinks that Nancy Pelosi is out of line for criticizing the crazies that show up at tea parties and town halls with swastikas. 

The media has been showing this stuff every day for a month, but somehow G. Gordon Liddy has missed it. 


G. GORDON LIDDY, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I haven‘t yet seen a photograph of anybody with any swastikas or anything else like that.  And I‘m sure that if there were, the press would have it all over the front page. 



SCHULTZ:  Can we hear that just one more time?  Can we, huh? 


LIDDY:  I haven‘t yet seen a photograph of anybody with any swastikas or anything else like that.  And I‘m sure if there were, the press would have it all over the front page. 


SCHULTZ:  Some things never change.  I guess our Watergate alum is still in his own personal lockup. 

Whatever press he‘s paying attention to may have overlooked these atrocities.  But those pictures have been everywhere.  There‘s no way a reasonable person can claim that right-wing nut-jobs haven‘t been waving swastika signs all over America at these town hall meetings.  That‘s why it‘s “Psycho Talk.”

When he was campaigning, President Obama said that he would assemble a team of rivals within the White House, and he wasn‘t kidding.  We‘re hearing that the staff is now divided on a public option.  And he‘s going to be giving an address to the nation next week.  Which side will he come down on? 

Plus, the main event coming up tonight, the latter part of our show.  I‘m starting to wonder if this whole thing isn‘t going to hell in a hand basket.  There are schools and school administrators in this country who are caving into the right wing nut-jobs, and they are taking precautions because the president of the United States plans a speech to children next week.  Cut me some slack.  I got commentary coming up. 


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  Someone has to make the Democrats understand there is no political risk when it comes to reconciliation.  I know that there‘s some people that disagree with me on that.

But in the Senate, if the Democrats show us spine, change the rules, make the play and deliver the package to the American people, folks, I think it‘s all upside.  A clear message will be sent that the Democratic Party is the party of the people and the party of real change has delivered.

Now, I think the President has to tell the country next week in front of the joint session of the Congress, reconciliation is a real possibility.  I also think the President should say it in this manner, with this kind of passion.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We have talked and talked and talk about fixing health care for decades and we have finally reached a point where inaction is no longer an option.  Where the choice to defer reform is nothing more than a decision to defend the status quo and I will not defend the status quo.  We are going to change health care reform.


SCHULTZ:  I want to hear it next week in front of the joint session of the Congress.  I can‘t wait.

We should point out that the block of progressive Democrats today delivered a letter over to the President and flat out told him any bill that does not provide at a minimum a public option built on Medicare-provided system and with reimbursement based on Medicare rates, not negotiated rates is unacceptable.

The battle lines are being drawn, not only within the White House but over in the Congress.

Let‘s bring in our panel: Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief of; and Jonathan Alter, senior editor of Newsweek; and Republican strategist Tim Griffin.

Let‘s go to you Jonathan.  I want to know how divided is this White House?

You got one camp that wants the universal care, you got another camp within the White House it‘s been reported that they‘re just looking to make a deal and get something done.  How big is this division?

JONATHAN ALTER, SENIOR EDITOR, NEWSWEEK:  Well, I don‘t actually think there‘s any division on the merits of health care, Ed.  Everybody in the White House wants a public option.  Everybody would like to see this bill as close to progressive as they possibly can.

But they live in the real world and they are pragmatists.  And there is a division about tactics and going forward and how much of a price you pay by veering all the way away from bipartisanship.  And there is still a considerable number of people there who think it would be better to get to 60 votes if you could, and they‘re pretty close.

Remember, with Al Franken, they just need one.  And Olympia Snowe is negotiating in good faith with them.  And so they have a real chance of getting 60 votes.

SCHULTZ:  Joan Walsh, when you take a look at the Democrats, they‘re now dropping off letters to the White House demanding, they‘re expecting a real performance by the President next week and some real definitive action on his part on exactly what he wants.  How do you think this is going to play out?  Because it sounds like these progressives they‘re not going to cave in and this could be a problem for the President, could it not?

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, SALON.COM:  It could be—it could be down the line, Ed.  I think what I would like to see next week is for the President to come out full-throated, passionate, really talking about the cost of doing nothing.

The real human cost of people who will die as well as the cost of our health care system.  We pay more than twice as much as any industrialized country per capita and yet our care is by many measures not as good.  We have a lower life expectancy, more obesity.

I think he needs to make the human case and very much the economic case.  I personally—and I know you agree with me and my friend Jonathan and I go back and forth on this one—I personally very much want to see him call for the public option...


WALSH:  ...and this is why.

First of all, I know he believes in it and not just as a matter of dogma, but as what can actually be used as a lever to bring costs down.  So we called—I would also like to hear him call our bluff, too, the progressive side‘s bluff.


WALSH:  If you want this, you are going to have to fight for it; you‘re going to have to help me.  And if down the line—I may be wrong and we may have to compromise—if down the line and we have to compromise, we still know the dimensions of what the deal could have been, can be and you just get more—if you‘re negotiating, you get more. 

SCHULTZ:  I think it‘s interesting...

ALTER:  I totally agree with you, Joan.

WALSH:  Thanks, Jonathan, we did it.

SCHULTZ:  Well...

ALTER:  Yes, I know I don‘t think there was any disagreement here on the left.  I am totally for a public option.  I think the President should push for a public option in his speech before Congress.

But the idea of drawing lines in the sand—and it‘s fine even to say now that it‘s unacceptable to have a bill without a public option, that‘s fine...



ALTER: an opening bid—as long as a month from now they don‘t kill the bill in order to get the public option.

SCHULTZ:  Jonathan, there‘s going to be a political reality to this.  So we‘re just going to have to wait and see how aggressive and how dogmatic the...

ALTER:  Right.

SCHULTZ:  ...progressives are going to be and see if they‘re really ready at the end of the day, saying ok that‘s not enough, we‘re not going to support you.  And I think they are serious about it.

Now, Tom Daschle, if you remember last week, went over and met with the President and it was reported that they talked about reconciliation.  It‘s interesting that Daschle comes out with an op-ed today and he says that he‘s giving his blessing to reconciliation.

Let me ask you, Tim Griffin, what‘s the upside and downside if the senate goes that direction to get a deal done?

TIM GRIFFIN, REPUBLICAN STRETEGIST:  Well, the upside, clearly, is that the legislation will pass and it may not pass if they don‘t go that route.  But if you look at the instances when President Bush used reconciliation, he used it, for example, to get some tax cuts passed.

But I could not find, looking at the examples of when President Bush used it, I could not find an issue around which there had been so much attention and passion.  And that‘s why I think to some extent using reconciliation right now is a bit uncharted territory in recent times, particularly in light of what‘s going on out in the country, you know.

Ed, when I‘m on your show, I often sort of talk about what‘s going on out here in Arkansas.  And I can tell you early on in August, I think that the President, as difficult as it was when the representatives and senators came back to the states, I think early on in August he was in a lot better position.

Just yesterday, Senator Lincoln said no way on the public option.

SCHULTZ:  Well, she‘s also the biggest taker of medical money in the senate for 2009.  She‘s taken over $300,000.  So I mean, the money is talking from the special interests and buying off some of these senators on the public option.

I do want to point out though, Tim, that I believe that President Bush got re-elected after he used reconciliation in the senate, correct, to get those tax cuts?


SCHULTZ:  So it‘s not a death knell by any stretch of the imagine and I think that that‘s case that‘s the President has to make next week saying look, we‘re going to go down this road.  If you guys don‘t come onboard and then he‘s going to have to deal with the progressives and just how strong they want to be on a public option.


SCHULTZ:  Panel stay with us we‘ve got a lot more coming up.

And also coming up, the Washington Redskins, will you show a little heart on this one?  They sure aren‘t showing any love to their fans.  I‘m blowing the whistle on them on my “Playbook” coming up.  This one I don‘t like.  And in fact bring back Billy (INAUDIBLE)

We‘ll be right back.  Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  ...THE ED SHOW we were just talking about health care and the President‘s address to the joint session of the Congress next week on Wednesday.

Joining me now on the phone from Iowa, Senator Tom Harkin, he was a member of Senate Health Committee, Health Education and Labor and Pension Committee.  Senator good to have you with us tonight.


COMMITTEE (via telephone):  Hey Ed, thanks for having me with you.

SCHULTZ:  Well, you bet, I just want to reiterate a discussion you and I had today.  You‘ve communicated with the White House that the public option has to be there, is that correct?

HARKIN:  I did this morning.  I called in the White House and I made it very clear that I look forward to the President‘s address.  He‘s got to do a couple, three things.

One of all he‘s got has to correct some of the lies and the distortions that‘s out there; and he‘s got to do that very straightforward.  And secondly, he‘s got to be forceful in letting us know that he wants a bill on his desk by Thanksgiving.  And third, he has to be unequivocal in his support for a public option and to make sure we have a public option just like what we have in our senate bill.

SCHULTZ:  OK, should he address reconciliation?  Should he tell the Republicans, look, if you don‘t come along with this, this is where we‘re going?

HARKIN:  Well, I wouldn‘t mind.  I think the best course is for us to have a bill out and have it fully debated.  Let people offer their amendments and things like that.  But if it‘s the Republican‘s intent to drag this out to stop it; I mean, after all, let‘s face it, it was Senator DeMint from South Carolina who said that we could make this Obama‘s Waterloo, we can stop him here.

If that‘s their attitude, well then, I guess we‘re just going to have to go to reconciliation and pass the bill.

SCHULTZ:  And Senator, what about your fellow colleague from the other aisle—from the other of the aisle and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley?  Has he been, in your opinion, negotiating in good faith?  Do you think he‘s a player or is this all song and dance?

HARKIN:  Well, I tell you, Ed, I don‘t know what‘s in a person‘s heart.  But all I can say is the fruit of the negotiations have not been very good.  It looks like this is just sort of a rope-a-dope, just keep talking and keep talking and I mean never get anything done.

I think there‘s the old saying that you can‘t get into that syndrome of ready, aim, aim, aim, aim, some time you got to fire.  And I think now is the time to pull the trigger and let‘s get this job done and get health reform through.

SCHULTZ:  Do you think there are other senators who are communicating with the White House the way you did today and of course on the House side, the Black Caucus sent a letter over there and so did the block of progressive some 60 saying look, we‘ve got to have public option.  Is there a lot of communication from the senators?

HARKIN:  I believe there is, Ed.  I‘ve talked with others who are calling in just like I am and I think he has to know that this public option has to be a part of our bill.

SCHULTZ:  Would you settle for the trigger Senator Harkin?  Would you settle for the trigger that‘s being talked about that Olympia Snow has brought up with the President?

HARKIN:  Well, the reason I don‘t like that, Ed, is because when you go along one year, two years, three years, then it gets kind of murky, it gets kind of muddy; the insurance companies will manipulate it.  You know, let‘s get the job done once and for all and have a public option out there and not have this thing maybe five years from now let it come into being.

SCHULTZ:  And you‘re seeing a lot of reaction at your town hall meetings, right?

HARKIN:  Well, I sure am.  And I got to tell you, it‘s a small minority—a small minority out there...


HARKIN:  ...through distortions and lies, through being loud and being disruptive.  They are trying to stop the vast silent majority of Americans out there that want this health reform bill done.

SCHULTZ:  Senator Harkin, great to have you with us tonight, thanks so much.  Safe travels, my friend.

HARKIN:  Hey, thank you very much, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  In my “Playbook” tonight, I‘m calling foul on the Washington Redskins.  This hurt, I grew up with them.

They‘ve been suing their fans, 125 of them, who have been released from their multi-year season ticket contracts.

That‘s right, the Washington Post has interviewed a bunch of these fans, most of them lost their jobs in the recession and couldn‘t afford the tickets anymore.  And instead of showing a little compassion, the Redskins turn around and do what?  File a lawsuit, totaling $3.6 million.

That‘s not the only unsportsman-like conduct we‘re seeing from these guys.  They‘re also been selling the tickets to online brokers instead of the fans who have been waiting in line.  There‘s 160,000 names on the list of Redskins fans who would love to have a chance at those tickets, but what are they doing?  They‘re giving them to brokers and sell them online.

I mean, the team admits selling to brokers against their policy.  Officially, I do not want them to win the Super Bowl this year, and if the Redskins go winless, that‘s ok with me.

Stay with us, we got so much more coming up.

Next up, the “Main Event” is going to be here tonight.  I‘ve got an outrageous story that I want to bring to you about the President of the United States.  He wants to talk to schoolchildren, but there are parents out there who are warning, you school districts you better not let that president talk to my kid.

That‘s happening in America.

Stay with us.  We‘re right back on THE ED SHOW.


SCHULTZ:  I want to ask you tonight, whatever happened to respect for the office?

Oftentimes you disagree with the President, we‘ve heard that over and over again from the righties during the Bush administration that you don‘t have to agree with the President or like him in any way, shape or form, but at least respect the Office of the President.

Well, now the President of the United States wants to speak to school students next week to welcome them back to school.  It‘s a new year.  Study hard, work hard, do well, set goals, try to achieve everything you can.  What parent would argue with that?

But righty talkers are telling their foot soldiers that the President is trying to indoctrinate America‘s children, trying to indoctrinate them, you know, maybe like do your homework, something like that.

Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have two young girls that are of school age years, right?  What do you think they tell them?  Boy, we‘re going to have to be scared of the kids when they grow up if that‘s the case.

Even crazier is that some school officials are buying into this stuff and they‘re nervous and they‘re accepting the premise that the President‘s back-to-school welcome could be a propaganda assault on America‘s children.

I want to go to my home state of Minnesota.  Joining me is Dr. Charlie Kyte; he‘s the executive director of Minnesota Association for School Administrators.  This is the middle of the country where Hubert Humphrey came from and Walter Mondale and Al Franken.  It‘s a pretty free-thinking state.

Dr. Kyte, why is the President of the United States being screened and possibly censored in your state? 


ADMINISTRATORS:  Well, I‘m not sure that he‘s being screened.  And we actually see it as a very positive thing that the President of the United States would give an encouraging message to the children across the country.

However, many of our school superintendents have gotten a lot of phone calls from people concerned about this on one side or the other.  And we have issued some guidance to them.  We have no authority over the superintendents but they do look to us for guidance.

SCHULTZ:  Let me bring up one in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.  The superintendent is Jerry Ness and this is what he wrote home to the parents.

“In a simpler, less contentious time, this would be a very welcome message.  But we live in both a time instant communications and a deeply divided nation in terms of political values.”

Dr. Kyte, the President just—the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has said what the message is going to be all about.  The President is just going to wish them well.  The President is not going to indoctrinate them.

Do you think that President Obama is a threat to schoolchildren in Minnesota?

KYTE:  I actually don‘t think he‘s a threat.  One of our issues is this is the very first day of school and we‘re just trying to get everything organized.  If we try to stop for a live broadcast at a certain time, by the way, right at the time we‘re sending the children to lunch, we‘re going to have a lot of difficulties. 

SCHULTZ:  Now, Dr. Kyte, you have to be—Dr. Kyte, hang on now, this is not just a logistical problem.  You‘ve got right-wing parents who are making phone calls who are actually saying, because I heard it on talk radio, that do not want their kids being subjected to the President of the United States.  Is that not true?

KYTE:  Not only is that true, it‘s a very harmful behavior in my opinion and the opinion of most of our school superintendents in the state.  But it‘s also our reality.

And we have always tried to give parents the flexibility that if they don‘t want their students to participate in some part of the school day, we try to give them the right and we try to honor that the best we can.

SCHULTZ:  Well, the Congressman from Minnesota, John Kline, said that he wants a copy of the speech to see if what the President of the United States is going to say to school kids is appropriate or not.

Now, isn‘t this overboard, Dr. Kyte?  This has never been done before.  The President, of course, has said that his administration will make the speech available.  But I find it hard to believe that school administrators would cave in to parents like this.

It‘s almost like you‘re treating the President of the United States as some third-level offender or something. 

KYTE:  First of all, I think you‘re wrong in your opinion.  I think there‘s a very high admiration for President Obama in Minnesota.  We are trying to do this in an organized way; we‘re trying to be sure of what we‘re doing.  We‘re trying to navigate through a very difficult political environment.

I think it‘s appropriate that we have at least a good idea of what‘s going to be said.  And then tell our teachers, use it at a time and a place when it‘s appropriate, so that we can fit it in to the learning schedule of the kids, not create a huge disruption on the first day.

We are not against this message.  However, we‘re trying to do this in a way that will be workable for our schools, our teachers, and for our parents.

SCHULTZ:  Dr. Charlie Kyte, appreciate your time tonight on THE ED SHOW.  Thanks so much.

KYTE:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  I absolutely find this insulting, insulting.  I remember when I was a kid, and John Glenn was circling the globe.  It was the first time we had sent an astronaut in outer space.

In Larchmont School in Norfolk, Virginia, I was in the third grade at the time, everybody was so excited that we got an American circling the globe, John Glenn.  And the President of the United States was going to talk to the school kids across the country.  And we had a transistor radio in there and I remember Ms. White she was trying to get that to work because it was a little bit scratchy because the President was going to talk to us and we were so excited.

My, how times have changed.

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is with us tonight.  Senator, I appreciate your time on this.

I don‘t know how you feel about it, but I feel it is an absolute insult to the President of the United States.  I‘d like to get your thoughts on this.

Senator, good to have you with us.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA:  First of all, Ed, it‘s great.  We missed you out at the Minnesota State Fair with the peach-glazed pig cheeks and everything else we‘re eating out there.

But I have to tell you this, I think that the President should have a right to address the students of this country.

When you go back in time, the first George Bush actually did a teleconference with the students of this country on science and math.

And I know Charlie Kyte who was just on—we‘re friends, we actually just did an event together on truancy and I know he didn‘t have much time.

I think one of his focuses was just the process.  He actually said to the other superintendents if you have concerns, you can play it later.

But I want to focus more on what I‘ve been hearing from some of the right wing commentators from across this country.

SCHULTZ:  Senator—hold on, Senator.

This is not part of the process.  This is actually school administrators in Minnesota and around the country in Kentucky, in Virginia, they‘re afraid of what the President might say.  That‘s what this is.

KLOBUCHAR:  They have no reason to be afraid.

If I could go through their concerns:  One, they said they wanted to see it ahead of time.  The White House is releasing it, as far as I know, 24 hours ahead of time.  Two, the president‘s topic is one they care about, keeping kids in school.  Truancy is the kindergarten of crime.  Trying to keep kids in school is a value that they share.

I‘m hoping that this will calm down.  It was a sudden thing for some of these superintendents.  They‘re just trying to figure out, they‘re getting calls that aren‘t fair and they‘re just figuring it out.

I‘m not defending that as much as I‘m saying that I think in the end people should allow the students to see the President of the United States just like they let them see the first George Bush or Ronald Reagan on drugs or just as they saw my daughter brings home presidential physical fitness certificates that were signed by George W. Bush. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, it just seems to me that these administrators ought to tell these parents if you don‘t like it, you can send them to a private school.  But in a public school in the United States of America, we have confidence that we don‘t have to screen what the President is going to say.

I find this amazing and insulting.  Do they actually think that Barack Obama is going to try to sell third graders on single payer?  I mean, what the hell is going on here?

KLOBUCHAR:  Actually, the White House has made very clear, Ed, that this isn‘t about policy.

SCHULTZ:  Exactly.

KLOBUCHAR:  It‘s just greeting the students and saying stay in your classroom.  So I‘m hoping that this will calm down.  I don‘t think you should be surprised after what we‘ve seen this past month that there are people that up in arms about things.  But we have to remember here is the message that the President is trying to convey. 

SCHULTZ:  The message is being screened.

KLOBUCHAR:  Kids have to stay in school.

SCHULTZ:  Senator, the President is being screened, and it is wrong and these parents are overboard.  They‘re the political ones, not the president.

Senator Klobuchar, great to have you with us tonight.

KLOBUCHAR:  It was great to be on.


You bet.

KLOBUCHAR:  Thank you.

SCHULTZ:  I‘m Ed Schultz, this is THE ED SHOW.  We‘re back tomorrow night 6:00.

“HARDBALL” coming up next with Chris Matthews right here on MSNBC.



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