'The Ed Show' for Friday, October 30, 2009

Guests: David Shuster, Chris Van Hollen, Brent Budowksy, Dennis Kucinich, Joe Madison, Steven A. Smith, Michael Medved, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, Liz Winstead

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  Good evening, Americans.  Welcome to THE ED SHOW tonight here on MSNBC.

Where is the president?  All the bills are in, they‘re all laid out on the table.  So I think it‘s time to be very clear—crystal clear. 

What does President Barack Obama want when it comes to health care in this country?  What does he want in the bill? 

Here‘s what‘s happening.  The president is pushing the trigger version of the public option.  He doesn‘t like the opt-out proposal that Harry Reid has in the Senate bill.  There is a battle going on here, folks.  This is why Harry Reid went to the Internet and appealed to the base. 


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER:  I believe in a public option.  It creates a level playing field with the insurance companies and creates fairness.  That‘s what we‘re trying to do. 

We‘re moving down the road on a process to have health care reform for our country.  This is so important.  Anyone that cares about it, make sure you contact your representatives in back here in Washington and push hard.  We want a health care bill that has a public option that keeps the insurance companies honest. 


SCHULTZ:  Harry is asking for the phone calls and the e-mails.  The majority leader is trying to salvage his version of the public option in the Senate bill. 

The White House is back-stabbing Harry Reid on the public option. 

They don‘t like this opt-out thing, because they think that southern states take, for instance, South Carolina—will opt out and a number of poor Americans will be left out with health care. 

They think the president could go out there and do anything he wants.  I think the president would sell his soul for some Republican support at this hour. 

The only way he can get it is with the trigger version of the public option.  That might get him one or two Republican votes in Senate.  Maybe, a real maybe. 

See, the president, basically, is counting on the liberals in Congress to tip over, to roll over and accept his position on this.  The White House thinks that Obama can go out there and he‘s a great salesman, he can sell anything on anybody, anything on anybody, anyway. 

Now, I have thought this for a long time, that the president was a staunch supporter of the public option.  I‘m wondering at this hour. 

The trigger doesn‘t cut it, in my opinion.  And I‘m not making this stuff up.  I mean, the progressive base is not happy with what is unfolding.  I‘m hearing the voices every day. 

Last night on this show, our text question was, “Has President Obama sold out his base on health care reform?”  Sixty-two percent said yes. 

Now, I know a text poll on a cable talk show isn‘t scientific, but I was surprised by that number. 

How does this president turn to his base and sell the trigger version of the public option?  The base isn‘t going to buy it.  That‘s not what we were compromising about on the campaign trail. 

I think the Obama administration is damaging the Democratic base with all these concessions.  That wasn‘t the “C” word we heard.  We heard the word “change” a lot. 

Now, on the campaign trail we didn‘t hear “concessions.” 

He‘s splitting the base when he doesn‘t have to. 

Mr. President, don‘t cave.  And force the Republicans to be on the wrong side of history, and get tough with your own folks.  But, first of all, tell us exactly where you stand on public option.  Is it the trigger or is it the full-fledged public option with the opt out, to have the states later on decide whether they want it or not after having it for a year? 

Get your cell phones out, folks.  I want to know what you think on this one tonight. 

Does president Obama want the public option to fail?  Text “A” for yes, “B” for no to 622639.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the program. 

Joining me now is Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen, chairman of the DCCC. 

Congressman, good to have you on tonight.

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND:  Good to be with you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  I don‘t want to overstate this.  And I realize that everybody in Denmark isn‘t going to be happy, so to speak.  But I‘m hearing a lot of consternation on the left that this public option doesn‘t go far enough, and, actually, the president isn‘t for a public option.  He‘s for a trigger. 

I need you to answer to this tonight if you can. 

VAN HOLLEN:  Well, number one, the president has been clearly for the public option from day one.  He said it in all his statements.  He said it before his joint address before the Congress.  And in the House, we passed a strong public option. 

You know, Ed, there have been lots of different versions of the public option out there.  We passed the same one that Senator Kennedy pushed through his committee in the Senate.  That‘s what we adopted in the House, along with a number of other provisions, including eliminating the antitrust exemption that has shielded insurance companies from competition. 

So, there‘s a lot in the House bill that‘s very strong.  And when we go to conference with the Senate, we‘re going to push hard for the strongest public option we can get, as well as these provisions that remove the shields for insurance companies.

SCHULTZ:  Chris, which public option does Barack Obama want?  I mean, when does he step up and tell the Democratic leadership, this is where we‘re going, this is what my base wants? 

Right now, it looks like the president is out there willing to do anything he can to get Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins or any other Republican out there just to be able to call it a bipartisan bill.  And this is shaking the base.  This is not what they voted for. 

VAN HOLLEN:  Well, I think we made great progress when Harry Reid, in the Senate, came out and said when we brings the two bills together from the two Senate committees, he‘s going to have a public option included.  There is an opt-out for states, but I think we all know that‘s a big hurdle to meet to try and get your state out of a public option. 

In the House, obviously, we have a broad-based public option.  We don‘t think that people should be opting out, but at least that‘s a high hurdle to make. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  So when you bring these bills together—now, Congressman, when you bring these bills together, you mean the president has no opinion? 

I mean, there are versions of the public option that are definitely different.  There‘s a big difference between a mandate to a state and then a trigger. 

If you support the trigger—and I would be really surprised if this were to pass in the House—if you support the trigger, that means you trust government.  You‘re trusting government that, well, the market conditions didn‘t work, so we‘re going to kick in the public option.  That‘s what the trigger is about. 

You don‘t start with public option.  It kicks in if the market conditions don‘t work. 

That‘s not what liberals voted for.  The people who supported Barack Obama, they didn‘t do this trigger thing.  They want it right out of the shoot.

And the president now, it seems to me, from what I‘m hearing, is not being straight with Harry Reid.  He‘s behind channels saying, oh, let‘s go with the trigger so we can get some Republicans.  Wow. 

VAN HOLLEN:  Well, Ed, for the reasons you state, as you know, we don‘t have a trigger in the House bill.  We never considered having a trigger in the House bill. 

I really don‘t know what‘s going on in discussions between the president and Harry Reid in the Senate.  What I do know is in the House, we believe in the public option that we have got, which is identical, as I said, to the one that came out of Senator Kennedy‘s office. 

We think it‘s strong, especially combined with other provisions in the House bill to keep the insurance rates down, to keep premiums down.  And we‘re going to push with the White House and with the Senate to have the House version prevail when we go to conference. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  You‘ve got to get people in office, you‘ve got to get people elected.  You‘re the quarterback of this whole thing, re-election and everything else. 

How strong do you think it has to be and how solid does this bill have to be?  How much selling is going to have to be done a year from now, at the midterm, that this isn‘t a loser for the Democrats?  Because if it turns out the way it sounds right now, there‘s going to be some people that are going to feel disenfranchised and say, you know what?  This hasn‘t changed, they didn‘t deliver the mail. 

VAN HOLLEN:  Well, Ed, look, I think this is a winner. 

First of all, we‘re going to have 96 percent of the American people covered.  Tens of millions of Americans who have no coverage right now will be covered. 

SCHULTZ:  So you can sell that to the—you can sell this in the next election?  You think as it sits right now, you‘ll be OK? 

VAN HOLLEN:  I do, because those people who do have coverage, who represent—as you know, represent the majority of Americans, are going to be protected from rapidly increasing rates.  Right now, as you know, these rates are going through the roof.  Those are going to be leveled off over time.  They‘re not going to go crazy like they would under the status quo. 

And I think that a number of provisions that are going to kick in

immediately—for example, what insurance companies do today, which is,

when you need your insurance the most, when you get sic, they take it away some of those things are going to go into effect right away, immediately, right out of the box.  I think we‘re going to have a very good product to take to voters. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, don‘t take offense with my aggressiveness, Congressman.  This is all the vetting process for the people. 

It‘s a 1,900-page bill.  We‘ve got a lot of reading to do.  But my struggle with the bill right now on the House side, doesn‘t cover enough people, doesn‘t offer the choice.  And I‘m not convinced that the mechanism of competition is in place to bring rates down.  We‘ve got a long way to go. 

You disagree, obviously. 

VAN HOLLEN:  We‘ve got a long way to go.  We‘ve got to get the votes on this bill in the House.

SCHULTZ:  Well, that‘s right.

VAN HOLLEN:  And I think if you look at the House bill, especially the affordability credits provided so that we make sure that, as we ask people to take on the responsibility of getting insurance, that we‘re going to make sure that it‘s affordable.  That‘s a critical piece of the House bill.  It‘s preferable in many ways, as you know, to the Senate bill. 

We do have a stronger competition component with our version of the public option in the House bill.  And we meet the president‘s requirement that we reduce the deficit, not only over the 10-year period...

SCHULTZ:  I‘ve got to run here.  I‘m short on time. 

But you need the president to step up and say what he wants.  That‘s what leadership is.  I mean, there‘s just too much legislating going on right here.  That‘s my opinion. 

Congressman, great to have you with us.

VAN HOLLEN:  And I know he‘s going to weigh in, Ed.  He will weigh in.

SCHULTZ:  I hope—well, now‘s the time.  All the bills are here. 

VAN HOLLEN:  All right.

SCHULTZ:  That‘s my opening statement.  All the bills are on the table. 

Let‘s go, Mr. President.  Tell the congressman what you want.

All right.  For more on this, I want to bring in Brent Budowsky.  He‘s a columnist for “The Hill” and a former House aide, and a former aide to Senator Lloyd Bentsen.  He knows all this horse trading and how it works.

What is going on between the White House and Harry Reid?  Why would Harry Reid, all of a sudden, go to the Internet and say, hey, I need some phone calls, I need some e-mails, you‘ve got to call your people?

What do you think is going on, Brent?

BRENT BUDOWSKY, “THE HILL”:  What‘s going on is that Harry Reid is fighting for the public option all out.  The Speaker and Congressman Van Hollen are fighting for the public option all out.  The president bluntly is not.  And there will be stories that you‘ll be reading pretty soon that are starting to come out that, all the things I‘ve been saying on your show and other places are going to be proven true.

Rahm Emanuel himself has not been fighting for the public option.  He‘s been fighting for the trigger.  Stories are already starting to break about that. 

We need the president to take a stand that is bold, honest, courageous, clear, forceful, unequivocal, to tell those senators on the Democratic side they have to stop the filibuster.  The president has not done that, and what Harry Reid is doing right now is he‘s going to the mattress, as they say, to the Internet, to the media, and to his colleagues in the Senate. 

But the president has not been doing it.  The president should do it, and should do it now.  We win if the president stands with us. 


The trigger is bogus.  The trigger is not reform.  The trigger—that means you believe in government.  And, of course, less than 20 percent of the American people believe in government right now anyway.  So, why in the world would the president go down that road? 

I don‘t think the people who supported Barack Obama said, hey, I can‘t wait to get him in office so we can maybe have health care reform and it doesn‘t cover enough people.  I don‘t know what the message—what message they‘re missing over at the White House. 

Now, let me ask you, do you think there will be a revote in the House if it comes out with a trigger?  Would there be enough votes there? 

BUDOWKSY:  Yes.  And I know members that privately have concluded that they‘re going to vote against it if it has only a trigger.  If the White House doesn‘t know that, they‘re making a big mistake. 

Point two, Ed, the point you made at the begins of the show about these states in the opt out, what the president could advocate easily is, with opt-out states, you give them a trigger.  So, if the opt-out states fall below the national standard, then those states get the public option anyway, even if they opt out.  This is the solution to that problem. 

SCHULTZ:  You know, that‘s what amazes me.  I don‘t know why the president wouldn‘t just embrace Harry Reid‘s opt-out, because it would send it back to his base people in all the states and it would keep it local, and they would make a decision that would make the Democrats stronger. 

What is Barack Obama doing? 

BUDOWKSY:  I‘ll tell you exactly what‘s going on.  The president is fixated on getting a Republican. 


BUDOWKSY:  That is the beginning, the middle and the end of it. 

And let me add this—and I‘ll say this on THE ED SHOW.  I worked for the House leadership. I‘ve counted a lot of votes in my life.  If a bill goes through the conference, back with a public option, I outright predict right here that Senator Olympia Snowe will vote for it, even though she will deny it, because she‘s not going to vote against health care because of a public option that the voters in Maine strongly support. 

I will guarantee it even though everyone in Washington will deny it. 

That‘s the truth. 

SCHULTZ:  Brent Budowsky, great to have you with us tonight. 

Appreciate your time.  We‘ll do it again. 

BUDOWKSY:  Any time. 

SCHULTZ:  All right.

And we will stay on this story as it unfolds. 

Coming up, we‘ve got some breaking news on former vice president Dick Cheney, “The Shooter.”.  The FBI just released notes from an interview with him about the outing of a CIA agent‘s identity.  He remembers nothing and denies lying. 

David Shuster is all over this at the bottom of the hour. 

Also, Republican fear mongering continues in the form of Mitch McConnell.  He says that the public option may “cost you your life.”  He just got a ticket right into the “Psycho Talk” zone. 

All that, plus Stephen A. Smith.  Dennis Kucinich is coming up, “Daily Show” co-creator Lizz Winstead, all in the House tonight.

You‘re watching THE ED SHOW.  Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Breaking news tonight here on MSNBC. 

Former vice president Dick Cheney is in the news tonight.  The FBI just released notes of an interview they did with him while investigating the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame.  Cheney says that he had nothing to do with it. 

MSNBC‘s David Shuster was on this story daily, by the minute, when this was all unfolding, and we want to get his insight to this. 

And David, piece it together for us tonight. 

This is an interview that took place back in 2004, and it shows that Dick Cheney was very concerned about Valerie Plame‘s husband, Joe Wilson, and some of the things that he was saying about prewar intelligence. 

Pick it up from there.  What does this tell us tonight? 

DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, this tells us, Ed, that the interview was about the events that happened the year before, when there was clearly this furious pushback by the office of the vice president which led to the outing of Valerie Wilson in the disclosure.  And the key question all along was Vice President Cheney‘s role. 

What the vice president is essentially saying in these interview notes is that he had no role, and that‘s where it just defies logic.  I mean, it came out in the Libby trial, Ed, that Scooter Libby even acknowledged meetings that he and the vice president had to discuss the Wilsons.  Vice President Cheney denied such meetings. 

There were notes in which Cheney wrote notes saying, here‘s the press strategy I want you to have, or he made references to Joe Wilson.  Cheney, at first in the interview, didn‘t recognize the notes.  Then says, oh, yes, this is my handwriting, but I don‘t know what these words mean.  There were times when Vice President Cheney recalled specific details, for example, of a trip that he was on with Scooter Libby when they went to Norfolk, Virginia, but Cheney couldn‘t remember anything about a key conversation they had which prompted Libby to then call and leak certain information to a reporter. 

The bottom line in all of this, Ed, is that anybody who looks at this, and you match up Cheney‘s interview with all the evidence that came out in the Libby trial, and you‘re going to say to yourself, why on earth did Patrick Fitzgerald not indict Vice President Cheney for perjury?  The evidence is all over the place. 

SCHULTZ:  That is amazing. 

What would be the next step here?  Is this legally over, or does this shed new light on anything as far as what...

SHUSTER:  What it does, Ed, it now moves in sort of the civil realm.  There‘s a civil lawsuit that an organization in Washington has filed against Vice President Cheney and Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.  This will now be part of that. 

And again, keep in mind that, as far as the criminal investigation, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald all along was thinking, OK, if I could ever just get Scooter Libby to testify honestly about some of these crucial meetings, some of the meetings where Libby said, yes, there was a meeting, but I can‘t recall the details, if he could ever get Scooter Libby to do that, you can see why Fitzgerald thought that maybe he could actually bring a case against Vice President Cheney.  But once Scooter Libby got the get-out-of-jail free card from the Bush administration, there‘s nothing else Fitzgerald could do, even though you‘ve got all the evidence that Vice President Cheney was basically saying, I have nothing to do with this, even though you have all the evidence that he was deeply involved. 

Unless he could get somebody on the inside like Scooter Libby, who was willing to become a government witness and an honest one, Fitzgerald made the decision he couldn‘t bring this forward.  So, as far as the criminal investigation, that‘s long over.  The only question now is what this does to the civil lawsuit and the opportunity for Wilsons and others to cover damages, perhaps, because of the actions of Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, Scooter Libby. 

SCHULTZ:  No doubt.  I would imagine that Dick Cheney would have nothing to say about this tonight at this point. 

SHUSTER:  Yes.  I mean, if he does any talking, maybe we‘ll get a statement from his lawyer.  But again, this is something that Vice President Cheney did not want released, and now we know why. 

SCHULTZ:  David Shuster, MSNBC.

Thanks so much, buddy.  Thank you. 

SHUSTER:  Thanks, Ed.  Take care. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet. 

Coming up, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has dusted off the broken record of lies on health care reform.  Oh, yes, he‘s topping the charts tonight. 

“Psycho Talk.”  


SCHULTZ:  And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, let‘s see, we‘re one day away from the scariest night of the year, and we‘ve got our very own fear-mongering Halloweeny (ph), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. 

Now, he must really feel threatened these days, because both houses of the Congress have got a health care reform bill with a public option.  And he‘s falling back on the old discredited lies. 

He went on the very low-rated “Dennis Miller Radio Show” the other day, and this is the best he could do. 


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL ®, MINORITY LEADER:  I think if you any kind of government insurance program, you‘re going to be stuck with it, and it will lead us in the direction of the European-style, you know, sort of British-style single payer, government-run system, and it may cost you your life. 


SCHULTZ:  Oh.  It may cost us our lives if we ever go single payer. 

Mitch, now, doggone it, we‘ve been this again and again.  You‘ve got to pay attention here.

A public option wouldn‘t lead to death panels.  And no one is going to pull the plug on grandma.  Neither the House or Senate bills are anywhere near single payer, although I wish they were. 

And listen to this.  The United States ranks 50th in the world in life expectancy, even though we pay more per capita for health care than any other country.  Great Britain is ranked 36th, 14 places above us. 

Doggone it. 

And how about those long lines in Canada?  Canada is all the way up to number eight on life expectancy.  We‘ve got a lot of work to do. 

The idea the public option will kill people is hogwash.  On the other hand, 45,000 people die every year in America because they don‘t have insurance. 

Recycling these old, tired, debunked arguments is pathetic, desperate “Psycho Talk.”  

Coming up, President Obama has sold out on health care reform.  And we‘ve got a watered-down bill in the House to prove it. 

Dennis Kucinich doesn‘t like what he‘s reading and he doesn‘t like the fact that his amendment on singer payer has been taken out.  We‘ll talk about that.

Plus, Pat Robertson is dressing up—this is such a crazy story.  He‘s trying to scare the living daylights out of people.  His Web site is warning that witches have cursed the candy supply for Halloween. 

“Daily Show” co-creator Lizz Winstead will be here in the next half hour. 

Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  The House health care bill, I don‘t think it‘s good enough.  I had Chairman George Miller and even progressive fighter Alan Grayson try to talk me into it last night on this program.  I‘m not there yet. 

But I think the weakened public option is designed to fail.  That‘s one of the reasons I don‘t like it.  Negotiated rates could make the public option even more expensive in some states.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi says this bill is just a first step.  Well, if we fail on the first step, we‘ll never get a second one.  Who knows what‘s going to happen in a year from now and in 2012? 

The Republicans will strip any reform we do right out of it, and we won‘t have anything, no matter what we pass, if they get back in the majority.  Joining me now is Ohio Congressman and former presidential candidate, Dennis Kucinich.  Congressman, good to have you with us tonight. 

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D), OHIO:  Thank you, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  I want to know why your amendment on single payer was stripped out and we‘re not going to get to vote on that in the House.  What‘s happening? 

KUCINICH:  We‘re fighting to get it back in.  I have the support of John Conyers, Lynn Woolsey, Neil Abercrombie and other leaders, who are saying, put that back in.  That‘s the one hope that consumers have that we will be able to discipline the insurance companies.  As long as there‘s the threat of a state single-payer plan germinating, insurance companies have to be careful about how they price their premiums in any given state, which is why we have to do everything we can to protect that state‘s single payer option. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, the other thing about that is, it tells me they want that crowd to go be quiet and it‘s over with; you‘re not going to get it.  To not allow a vote on it, to me, sends the message, you got to be quiet on this because we‘re moving forward, and this is the way it is, which is exclusion, which we‘ve seen from day one. 

You have seven members that have signed on to this.  John Conyers is a great guy to have on your side.  How confident that you‘re going to get this back in and get a vote on it and the publicity to follow? 

KUCINICH:  We‘ll know by Monday.  We‘re trying to get it back in the manager‘s amendment.  Remember, this passed in the Education Labor Committee.  I think we need the support of the American people to say, look, you need that state single payer amendment in the bill to make it credible. 

What are people giving up already?  Mandated by private insurance—if you read the bill, people are going to end up paying—insurance companies can raise rates 25 percent right off the bat, if you read the language of the bill.  I‘m looking at how people are penalized. 

SCHULTZ:  Say that again.  Congressman, hold it right there.  Say that one more time.  I want our audience to really consume that tonight. 

KUCINICH:  I have it right here, Ed.  It‘s on page 22 of the bill.  Right here.  It says that the rates shall be set at a level that does not exceed 125 percent of the prevailing standard rate for comparable coverage in the individual market. 

Now, you know, it‘s very easy to understand what that means. 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s not reform. 

KUCINICH:  It means it‘s a 25 percent increase they‘ll have the ability to execute.  Since insurance companies have already raised rates for the last four years by double digits, we can expect, based on the bill, another rate increase by the insurance companies. 

This bill has a lot of problems.  And I think that when you see that it gives the insurance company not just an ability to raise rates, but people are mandated to buy insurance.  If only 11 million people may have access to the public plan, that means everyone else is going to have to buy private insurance, and be subjected to increases in premiums, co-pays and deductibles. 

There might be a cap on the amount of money that goes out, but those co-pays, deductibles and premiums are what are just killing the American people. 

SCHULTZ:  So this is a whole bunch of money going to the insurance industry that has been fighting reform all along?  This is really a sellout in the early years to the insurance industry.  It doesn‘t cover enough people in the public option, in my opinion. 

KUCINICH:  Maybe instead of a sell out, it‘s a bailout.  Maybe what we‘re looking at here is another way that Wall Street‘s speculative engine can be fueled, this time with the help of the premiums of tens of millions of Americans. 

SCHULTZ:  How‘s the base going to respond to this?  Do you think Democrats are going to revolt on this? 

KUCINICH:  I don‘t know if we can say revolt.  People need to know that this bill has a lot of defects, and that one of the things that would make it possible to believe we won something is if they put the Kucinich Amendment back in for state single payer, so the people would at least have the option of breaking free from the insurance companies, if their rate-making practices and their co-pays and deductibles are confiscatory (ph). 

We have to regain control here.  Otherwise, what do we have?  We have the insurance companies calling this show.  Ed, the insurance companies are the problem.  They‘re not the solution.  To have a bill that puts them as the solution, I think, is a step in the wrong direction. 

SCHULTZ:  No doubt about it.  Congressman, I‘m with you on this 100 percent.  Thanks for speaking up.  I don‘t think the American people, once they read the 1,900 pages, are going to like this.  And I think they are going to want more.  Thanks, Dennis.  Appreciate your time.

For more, let me bring in Joe Madison, XM radio talk show host, Steven A. Smith with us tonight, journalist and commentator, and Michael Medved, radio talk show host and author of the book, “The Ten Big Lies About America.” 

Steven A., what do you make of this? 

STEVEN A. SMITH, COMMENTATOR AND JOURNALIST:  I think the president—you know, he‘s more concerned—it seems to be that he‘s more concerned with gaining Republican support than doing what he said he initially was going to do.  You‘re talking to somebody that is really, really suspicious of the public option, in terms of got to make sure it can be paid for.  You and I were talking about that early today.  You know that‘s what I‘m all about.  You got to make sure it can be paid for. 

In terms of the president of the United States, himself, you said—you‘ve got to step up.  He‘s been as soft as Cottonelle Tissue on this issue.  You have the House, Democrats in the House.  You‘ve got Democrats controlling the Senate.  You‘re the president of the United States.  But you seem so focused on getting one or two Republicans, I just don‘t understand it.  It makes no sense.  I think this wreaks of that. 

SCHULTZ:  Joe Madison, how do you think, from what you‘ve heard in the last few days—how is this House bill going to be received by core Democrats and those who got into the process and expected big-time reform?  And how are they going to take this bill?  Will there be push back on it in, your opinion, from the base? 

JOE MADISON, XM RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  There has to be push back on it.  It depends on how this news gets out.  Now, like today, the vast majority of the people that I talked to on my show, Ed, support the position that you and I and others have taken, this allowing states to opt out.  I even had conservatives call my show and say, well, I hope they do go to allow states to opt out.  Then we can get rid of some of those dead beats. 

I mean, the reality is you‘ve got a Senate bill that now allows, quote/unquote, Blue-Dog Democrats to go back to their state and give the people something that can help them get re-elected.  I don‘t know.  I tell you this: this trigger thing we‘re talking about, whoever pulls it may shoot themselves in the head. 

SCHULTZ:  No doubt about that, especially in the foot first.  Michael Medved, is President Obama showing weakness here?  Is he handling this wrong?  Is it all about timing and he‘s going to come out strong?  What‘s his call?  What do you think‘s going to happen? 

MICHAEL MEDVED, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  I‘m going to, for once, defend President Obama.  I think he‘s being cautious and it‘s appropriate.  The main group of the American people, huge majority, are more concerned about the state of the economy.  The market went down 250 points today.  We have a troubled economy.  We don‘t have a recovery.  And the American people want the president to keep his eye on the prize.  That is economic recovery. 

I happen to believe that all the uncertainty and all the fears and all the back and forth over health care has actually harmed the chances of recovery.  And I think the president is right to be extraordinarily cautious before you have a one trillion dollar new authorization for spending that is not paid for, and can‘t really be paid for, and gets us deeper and deeper into debt. 

SCHULTZ:  The House bill is paid for.  The House bill is paid for. 

You know, fees and taxes are going to go up, which I‘ve told you all along. 

In fact, all of the bills have got mechanisms to get paid for right now.  But what I‘m not getting is that the president is not being crystal clear on what kind of public option he wants. 

MEDVED:  I think you‘re entirely right, but also this question about it being paid for is not entirely clear.  Because—I don‘t think that these numbers add up at all.  It‘s going to be very tough to sell people on a 300 billion dollar cut in Medicare, when people are living longer and Medicare expenses are going to go up. 

SMITH:  It‘s one thing to be cautious, like he said.  It‘s another thing to come across as not providing any kind of leadership whatsoever.  More than 69 million Americans voted for this man.  This man was talking about universal health care.  This man was saying that he had a plan laid out.  Yet, still, he puts it to the House and he says, come up with a plan for me. 

He‘s looking at Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.  Everybody is looking for Barack Obama.  Guess what, 69 million people did not vote for Nancy Pelosi.  They did not vote for Harry Reid.  They voted for Barack Obama.  And, again, whether I agree or disagree—we both know I have my questions—the reality is you have to come forward and you have to be the one that puts the plan in place and not somebody else doing it for you. 

SCHULTZ:  Joe Madison, what is going to move the president at this point? 

MADISON:  Well, I think him not listening to the advisers he has in the White House and doing what Steven has said.  Barack Obama has a high popular vote.  I think he‘s getting some very bad advice.  And what I heard from Dennis earlier today reminds me of something I think Will Rogers says: we‘ve got the best Congress money can buy. 

SCHULTZ:  Gentlemen, thanks for joining us tonight.  Appreciate your time on this issue. 

Coming up, the president decides to send additional forces to Afghanistan.  That could cost us 500,000 dollars per troop, on top of lives, which are absolutely priceless.  Katrina Vanden Heuvel of “The Nation” will be here to explain all of that and weigh in on this health care issue as well.  Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  In my playbook tonight, the cost of war in Afghanistan is not getting any cheaper.  October has been the deadliest month yet for American troops.  And we still don‘t have a strategy decision from the president.  Obama, of course, did hold another closed-door meeting this afternoon on Afghanistan with his national security team.  Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said today that the president‘s review of the war is nearing conclusion. 

Joining me now is Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor of “The Nation.”  We just got a hot note in here tonight that the president is going to hold another meeting with the Joint Chiefs next week.  He goes to Asia on November 11th.  So there‘s strong speculation that the president might not make a decision on troops for several weeks yet.  Does that open the door for a lot of criticism? 

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, “THE NATION”:  It shouldn‘t.  This is the most solemn responsibility a president has, to commit American men and women to combat.  Let us hope that he use this time to push back against those who would not learn the lessons of history, that foreign military intervention in a country like Afghanistan is not going to resolve the problem.  And the costs of this war, Ed, have to factor on Barack Obama. 

The larger issue is war has killed reform presidencies.  You think of LBJ and Vietnam, and how it destroyed the possibility of the Great Society.  Barack Obama could be a great reform president.  But this decision to commit more troops to Afghanistan could be the defining moment of his presidency, squandering the resources we need to renew, rebuild the promise of America, and for health care, for jobs. 

SCHULTZ:  The majority of Americans—I‘ve seen a number of polls out there.  The majority of Americans, in the 50s -- 55 was the number I saw.  They want more troops going to Afghanistan.  They would support the president doing this.  Does this put the president in a tough spot?  Because, you know, he wants to draw down Iraq.  His base doesn‘t want any more of this.  You‘re part of that base.  I‘m part of this base. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  The country is divided, Ed.  The majority of Democrats do not support committing more troops.  And the decision to escalate puts off the table a range of alternatives, including the one Vice President Biden is supposed to be arguing.  There are alternatives.  And those include common sense counter-terrorism, Homeland Security measures, that would keep us secure. 

That is I think something Americans have to understand.  They‘ve been persuaded that only escalation will do that. 

SCHULTZ:  Now, this rhetoric about him not being able to make a decision is going to heat up.  You know, John McCain was out there the other day saying this.  You could just hear it the next few weeks. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Look at Barack Obama, that dramatic midnight visit to Dover Air Force Base. 

SCHULTZ:  They criticize him about that. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  This, again—they‘re dithering.  They dithered us into a war that cost lives, that did not make us more secure.  People should be listening to the former Marine Combat Officer, foreign service officer Matthew Hoh, who Dick Holbrooke, others in this administration, tried to persuade to stay on board.  This man, principled resignation the other day, said that the—our insurgency is fueling the insurgency in Afghanistan, that there is no strategy he can make sense of, and that he believes that, for the sake of American security, for the sake of lives and treasure, we should not escalate.  He is a man who‘s going to travel this country, Ed, from Arkansas to Florida to Kentucky to New York, and people who have seen combat and seen Afghanistan, as he has, believe we should not escalate. 

SCHULTZ:  Here‘s the NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll, support for troops increased since September.  Strong support for the troop increase in Afghanistan now at 28 percent.  In September, it was at 19 percent.  This is the president, in an interview, making a comment on his visit to Dover Air Force Base.  Here it is. 


OBAMA:  It was a sobering reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices that our young men and women in uniform are engaging in every single day. 

The burden that both our troops and our families bear in any wartime situation is going to bear on how I see these conflicts. 


VANDEN HEUVEL:  Barack Obama has a way out.  We‘ve been fighting this war longer than we fought in World War II.  What do we have?  A government in Afghanistan rife with corruption.  We don‘t have a partner there.  We can be secure, not through sending forces, troops, men and women who will die in a quagmire.  Barack Obama—

SCHULTZ:  No presence at all, Katrina?  No presence at all in Afghanistan?  

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Not escalation.  We need a responsible exit strategy.  And we need to reconfigure our involvement in the country.  Do it with development, reconstruction, peace keeping, regional diplomacy.  Not military.  The history, look at the Soviet Union, look at the British. 

It‘s a quagmire.  He can speak—he also has the support of the elite in this country, to a certain extent.  George Will is opposed to escalation.  Tom Friedman has changed his mind.  Tom Friedman, in a funny way, is like the Walter Cronkite of—what Walter Cronkite was to Vietnam, speaking to a country, Tom --  

SCHULTZ:  What about the provincial review that he is calling for?  That obviously tells me that he wants to be there for a long time, and do as much as he can to fix this country and fight al Qaeda. 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  You know what, Ed?  Don‘t to it with military forces. 

Don‘t do it with combat forces.  Find a way to reconfigure our presence. 

SCHULTZ:  What did you make of former Senator Clinton, now secretary of state, in Pakistan, making the comment about she couldn‘t believe that they don‘t know where al Qaeda is? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  First of all, Pakistan, you can see, is beginning to fight the Taliban and the al Qaeda.  I think we make a big mistake, by the way, conflating al Qaeda, which is a global jihadist force, very small, and the Taliban, which is not. 

But the anti-Americanism in Pakistan, Ed, is at such a level that we would be wise to let the Pakistanis fight al Qaeda and push them to do so.  But lecturing them isn‘t going to get us anywhere.  By the way, we‘re destabilizing Pakistan by sending more forces to Afghanistan.  Pakistan is a nuclear-armed country.  National security, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  Katrina, let‘s talk health care for just a moment, the House bill.  What do you make of it?  Will it go far enough to satisfy base core Democrats in this country?  Will there be a push back in the progressive movement, to the point where maybe it could erode some support in 2010? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  Well, I think you heard from, you know, Congressman Kucinich before.  They should fight on keeping—allow states to do the single payer.  Affordability is going to be key.  We have seen progressive leadership in the House and the grass-roots base work well.  They have to keep pushing. 

I‘m much more worried about the Senate, as you well know.  Anyone who can get to Landrieu, Nelson, Bayh, traitor Lieberman, and—

SCHULTZ:  Speaking of that—speaking of that, that takes us right to our next story.  One more story I want to do in our playbook.  If you didn‘t think Joe Lieberman was a turn coat before, look at this sound bite. 


SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT:  I would expect that I probably will support some Republican candidates for Congress or Senate in the elections in 2012. 

I‘m going to call them as I see them.  That means sometimes the better choice is somebody who‘s not a Democrat. 


SCHULTZ:  How much more evidence do they need to throw him out of caucus, and strip him of his chairmanship? 

VANDEN HEUVEL:  None.  I mean, the guy was giving speeches for McCain.  Am I wrong?  Am I forgetting something?  The major question, Ed, is moving forward, the need to revive the Senate rules.  Can‘t do it now, but you got to bust that filibuster.  It‘s anti-Democratic.  And Joe Lieberman is just the most blatant evidence of the dangers. 

SCHULTZ:  Katrina, thanks for your time tonight.  Thanks so much. 

Finally, a new poll is out showing how people view the news networks.  It‘s no surprise about half the people said Fox was mostly conservative, and a little over a third said MSNBC and CNN were mostly liberal. 

Here‘s the kicker: 14 percent of the people said Fox News is liberal?  Who are these folks?  Now, I don‘t—I don‘t know what version of Fox News they‘re watching, but it can‘t be the same one that routinely finds its hosts into the zone—all right—on this program. 

Coming up, I guess preacher Pat Robertson won‘t be bobbing for any more apples this year.  His website warns that Halloween is evil and demons may be lurking in the candy.  “Daily Show” co-creator Liz Winstead is up.  She‘ll respond to that right here on THE ED SHOW in Club Ed.  Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  It‘s Friday, time for Club Ed.  Liz Winstead with us, co-creator of the “Daily Show” and the brains behind “Wake Up World.” 

Holy smokes, we got a family feud going on.  What‘s this about Levi going to be showing and telling all? 

LIZ WINSTEAD, COMEDIAN:  What‘s so funny, I felt like the second he said, I know some things about the family, the press release came out from the family.  It was like, we don‘t say anything bad about our child.  He didn‘t say that yet, so maybe you do.  But, you know, does anybody care about Sarah Palin anymore, Knowing that Levi Johnston -- 

SCHULTZ:  Her approval rating is in the 20s.  She seem to get pretty good ratings every time she talks about something.  She‘s good for something.

WINSTEAD:  I want to talk about him and being naked. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘ve never seen a “Playgirl.”  Is this going to be the whole package?  What‘s happening? 

WINSTEAD:  I don‘t know.  I think we will see—

SCHULTZ:  I don‘t even know how to ask that question. 

WINSTEAD:  You don‘t have to.  Basically, what‘s going to happen is that Levi‘s success is going to live or die by this spread.  Basically what I‘m saying is we‘re going to see if he‘s going to be too big to fail. 

SCHULTZ:  Speaking of telling all, bearing all, how about Joe Lieberman?  What do you make of this guy? 

WINSTEAD:  I really don‘t know—I guess the cop-out option is what he‘s going for.  I don‘t understand Harry Reid defending him.  Harry Reid is starting to sound—you know that buddy you have who has the awful wife, and he‘s always like—and the wife is cheating on him and you‘re like, dude, this woman is bad for you.  And your buddy says, yes, but he‘s great, she sticks with me.  I love her.  That‘s how he treats Joe Lieberman.  Joe Lieberman is a disaster and Harry Reid needs to get a spine. 

SCHULTZ:  I would say so.  Halloween coming up.  What are you dressing up as? 

WINSTEAD:  I‘m going to go as Liz Cheney.  Actually, I‘m going to go as the naughty Liz Cheney.  But what I need is somebody who will be Bill Kristol with me, and just paddle me a little bit every time I lie.  I‘m looking for takers. 

SCHULTZ:  That won‘t be me.  Pat Robertson has this thing going saying that the candy‘s spiked or something. 

WINSTEAD:  Pat Robertson, is he not an A-list buzz kill?  Seriously, it‘s just he‘s out of control.  He‘s saying that the Halloween candy—his website, some spokesperson is saying the Halloween candy is tainted and that there‘s demons in the Halloween candy.  Basically saying, kids, be scared.  You might get candy corn by Satan. 

SCHULTZ:  OK.  Liz Winstead, always on a Friday right here on THE ED SHOW.  Great to see you.  Happy Halloween. 

Earlier, I asked you, does President Obama want the public option to fail?  Forty three percent of you said yes; 57 percent of you said no. 

We have a town hall meeting coming up in Seattle, Washington, at Seattle Town Hall.  That will be Sunday night, November 5th.  Hope you can join us there. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  For more, go to our website at WeGotEd.com.  Coming up next is “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  Have a great weekend. 

We‘ve got election coverage coming up on Tuesday night.  You can see it all right here, the place for politics, MSNBC.  Have a great one.  



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