'The Ed Show' for Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Guests: Dennis Kucinich, Jack Jacobs, Ron Wyden, Howard Dean, Bill Press, Michael Graham, Karen Desoto, Tom Andrews

ED SCHULTZ, HOST:  Good evening, Americans.  Welcome to THE ED SHOW in New York.

Well, here we go.  It‘s war time. 

Tonight may be the biggest night of the Obama presidency.  We‘re going into year number nine in Afghanistan.  We‘re about to send billions of more dollars and troops. 

Tonight the president will tell the American people this is not a war without end.  He will lay out a plan that has got the troops coming home from Afghanistan in three years, before the end of his first term. 

We‘ve heard this kind of stuff before, haven‘t we?  But too many Americans, it just seems like it‘s more of the same.  It‘s so Bush-like.  It‘s hard for liberals to grasp this. 

The president already gave the orders to send 30,000 more troops, and the first wave arrives by Christmas.  Is this the change we can believe in?  I hope so.  I hope it‘s the right thing to do. 

I‘ll say this—the president has been consistent on Afghanistan.  He told us over and over again during the campaign that he wanted more troops in Afghanistan. 


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I have been very clear in talking to the American people about what I would do with respect to Afghanistan.  I think we have to have more troops there. 

In 16 months, we should be able to reduce our combat troops, provide some relief to military families and our troops, and bolster our efforts in Afghanistan so that we can capture and kill bin Laden and crush al Qaeda. 

Part of the reason I think it‘s so important for us to end the war in Iraq is to be able to get more troops into Afghanistan. 


SCHULTZ:  Defending the president, this is no surprise.  He wanted to take the fight to the terrorists.  But the intelligence says that, well, al Qaeda is not in Afghanistan. 

So what‘s this all about?  Pakistan?  We‘ll find out more tonight. 

The Afghan people, they don‘t want us there.  Our nation is divided on what we should do, and we don‘t have the money to do it. 

And then, of course, there‘s Dick Cheney, in some twisted way, who‘s always against the president.  He‘s out slamming President Obama for projecting weakness in a new interview with Politico. 


RICHARD CHENEY, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  This continual sort of agonizing over what the policy ought to be has consequences.  It has consequences for your forces in the field.  It begins to raise questions about whether or not what they‘re doing and what they‘re involved in is really supported by the man at home.  Is the commander-in-chief behind what they‘ve been asked to do? 


SCHULTZ:  You know, if the folks had said that kind of stuff about Bush, you know, the lefties out there, we would have been called anti-American, don‘t support the troops, on and on and on.  Gosh, how the roles have reversed.  And my question is, what does a guy who got five deferments know anything about the mindset of the men and women who are actually serving in the military? 

The Republican Party is really invested in failure—Obama failure.  But the president is also facing pushback from the base.  After mobilizing to put him in office, it‘s not clear if progressives are going to hang with this president on this decision. 

At a press conference this afternoon, Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin said there is major unrest in the Democratic Caucus. 


SEN. RUSS FEINGOLD (D), WISCONSIN:  I was just at our Democratic conference lunch, and I spoke out on this.  And I won‘t say who said what, but the number of people who joined me in expressing these very concerns was significant.  Many members of my caucus, and I believe members of the Republican Caucus, perhaps from different philosophical perspectives, will come to the same conclusion, that this is a mistake to move in the direction of this huge troop buildup. 


SCHULTZ:  You know, it‘s a fair question.  Doesn‘t this president deserve the first move on Afghanistan after he said all of those things on the campaign trail?  This should come as no surprise.  All of those people in that Democratic Caucus were behind President Obama when he was running against McCain. 

If there‘s one thing for sure this president can do, it‘s to make a point and sell it, and the people around him think he can sell anything.  And that might be a fault. 

Tonight, President Obama, needless to say, he‘s got to have his A game.  Now, I don‘t have all the facts.  You don‘t have all the facts.  We‘re not in all these meetings.

Maybe there‘s new information out there that just maybe the Obama plan will outdo the Bush/Cheney plan and we‘ll get a successful conclusion here.  But it is a big decision. 

I want to know what you think.  Get your phones out tonight, folks. 

Do you support the president‘s decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan?  Now, this question affects your family and your next generation, because it‘s going to cost billions of dollars and we will lose more American lives. 

And we‘ve heard in the past that, well, it‘s only going to be for a few years.  Who can actually predict how long a war is going to last? 

So, the question: Do you support the president‘s decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan?  Text “A” for yes, “B” for no to 622639.  We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show. 

Joining me now is congressman from Ohio and former presidential candidate, Dennis Kucinich, who has been very clear on his position on all of this for a long time. 

Congressman, thanks for your time tonight. 


SCHULTZ:  Is there a chance that Bush and Cheney got it so wrong, that maybe the Obama plan moving forward could turn this around and we could get a successful conclusion?  What do you think? 

KUCINICH:  Well, I think that many of us know that President Bush and Dick Cheney took this country into a war in Iraq that we did not have to fight, kept this country into Afghanistan and prolonged a war that we did not have to continue.  And frankly, with the vice president speaking out, he should be held accountable. 

Both he and the president should have been impeached.  President Bush, that is, should have been impeached.  And Mr. Cheney should still be held accountable for the lies that he told that took us into the war in Iraq. 

Now, with respect to Afghanistan, we should not be escalating.  And it‘s an unfortunate thing that President Obama‘s made the decision to escalate.  You can‘t be in and out at the same time. 

He may talk about an exit strategy, but the truth of the matter is you first have to escalate, and then you find out how long you‘re going to be there.  And I think it‘s regrettable. 

We don‘t have the money to do this.  We are weakening our ability to defend this country by doing it.  And I think it‘s going to undermine the United States‘ role in the region and create even further instability. 

SCHULTZ:  So, why do you think President Obama is making this move? 

And why now? 

KUCINICH:  Well, you correctly pointed out that he committed himself to Afghanistan early on.  But I also think that if he would have looked at the evidence, and that is that al Qaeda had been routed, that any increase in occupation forces fuels a Taliban insurgency.

The Taliban are not jihadists.  They‘re homegrown Afghanis who have unfortunately created a huge resistance that makes it apparent that the United States is not going to be in a position to be able to knock them out. 

The best we can do is to cut a deal and to get out.  Unfortunately, we‘re escalating with the idea that somehow we‘re going to conquer the Taliban.  But the best we can do is fight them to withdraw, and it‘s going to be very costly.  And it will cost us a lot of blood and treasure. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, what about Pakistan?  Pakistan is a big part of all of this.  Don‘t we have to have a presence there? 

KUCINICH:  Well, actually, our presence in Afghanistan and the action

·         the activity of the drones along the border creates instability in Pakistan.  And so we have a very dangerous moment here where the United States is overextending itself.

And it‘s not only relating to Pakistan.  You know, we‘re looking at military forces close to the Iranian border, and we‘re also looking at military forces in a country which is on the Chinese border. 

Instead of trying to work with these nations to create a solution in Afghanistan, we‘re creating instability that could put us into a wider war.  It‘s very dangerous to do that, particularly at a time when the United States‘ economy is so weak. 

SCHULTZ:  And is there any stopping this at all, in your opinion? 

KUCINICH:  No.  I mean, the president is going to make the decision. 

The one thing you have to keep in mind, though, this isn‘t only President Obama‘s decision.  The Congress of the United States decides whether or not to appropriate the funds. 

Now, Congress authorized on October 8th $130 billion for fiscal year 2010 for Iraq and Afghanistan.  But Congress will be asked for more funds.  They‘ll be asked for a supplemental, I‘m sure. 

We have to take a stand and tell the president no.  It‘s Congress‘ constitutional responsibility, Ed, under Article 1 Section 8. 


KUCINICH:  Congress has the responsibility to decide whether to go to war, whether to stay at war.  It‘s not the president‘s decision alone. 

SCHULTZ:  And Congressman Kucinich, is President Obama playing right into the hands of the righties? 

This is Karl Rove earlier in an interview saying that he would applaud the president.  Here it is. 


MATT LAUER, “THE TODAY SHOW”:  You have said in the past that the president was wobbly on Afghanistan.  He‘s going to announce tonight he‘s going to send between 30,000 and 35,000 additional troops there. 

Wobbly anymore, or is that a definitive action? 

KARL ROVE, FMR. CHIEF ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BUSH:  That‘s a definitive action.  And if the president does do that, I‘ll be among the first to stand up and applaud. 


SCHULTZ:  What‘s the political downside of this, Congressman? 

KUCINICH:  Well, Karl Rove is a very astute analyst.  But you have to realize something.  The old left/right paradigm goes out the window here, Ed. 

You have the Cato Institute opposing this war.  You have congressmen like Dana Rohrabacher and Jim Duncan opposing this war, and Chaffetz of Arizona (sic). 

So there‘s going to be a different kind of coalition on this.  And so forget left/right.  This is really about whether or not we recognize there‘s a danger for America to go in deeper.  And hopefully we can build a coalition that will show the White House and show the congressional leadership that the wise course of action is not to escalate, but to begin to get out. 

SCHULTZ:  Congressman, good to have you with us tonight.  Thank you for your time. 

KUCINICH:  Thank you very much.  Appreciate it. 

SCHULTZ:  For more, let‘s go live to West Point Military Academy, where the president will deliver his speech tonight, and MSNBC military analyst, retired Colonel Jack Jacobs.  Colonel Jacobs is a Medal of Honor recipient.

Jack, great to have you on tonight.  Thanks for your insight.

Why West Point.  Is this window dressing?  What do you think.

JACK JACOBS, MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST:  Oh, sure.  This is a media event as much as it is anything else. 

I think the president has been advised not to address the nation from the Oval Office or any other place like that on a set, that the best thing to do is surround himself with troops who are going to bear the brunt of his decisions.  And coming to West Point is a very good idea, indeed, from a public relations standpoint.  I think it was very well thought out and very well planned. 

SCHULTZ:  What about the mission?  Are you convinced that what the president‘s going to lay out tonight—and we‘ve got most of the detail on it.  Are you comfortable, militarily, that this has got a chance for success? 

JACOBS:  Well, actually, it does.  It‘s got the support of the highest-ranking guys in the military establishment who know how to fight unconventional wars. 

The argument is, how many troops and of what kind are being committed?  He‘s going to—he, the president, is going to get a lot of flak from the left for committing anything, and he‘s going to get lots of flak from the right for not committing enough. 

In the end, it‘s a scaleable operation.  The kinds of forces that are going to be used in Afghanistan can be used in relatively small numbers, in specific areas, for a long period of time, and then moved on to other areas. 

It‘s the long period of time that‘s going to be a real problem—fewer troops to use, the more time it‘s going to take.  And he‘s going to take a lot of heat for that. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, you talked about pushback.  It was on this program last night. 

This is Congressman Massa talking about this potential move. 


REP. ERIC MASSA (D), NEW YORK:  Putting 30,000 more troops in Afghanistan is like pouring a bag of sand in a broken New Orleans levee.  Even General Petraeus, who wrote the current insurgency strategy that we‘re supposed to be following, says we should have over 300,000 more. 


SCHULTZ:  That was one veteran.  Another veteran, John Murtha, who just got back, said, “I‘m still very nervous about this whole thing.  If you had 10 years, it might work.  If you had five, you could make a difference.  But you don‘t have that long.” 

So there will be pushback.  Now let‘s talk about the American people. 

Pushback in Congress, I mean. 

Most -- 90 some-odd-plus percent of the American people have never been in the military.  But they look at this, and we‘re not military experts.  You are, Colonel. 

Haven‘t we been down this road before?  And did Bush and Cheney screw it up so bad for eight years, that maybe the Obama plan can come in and, all of a sudden, we‘re going to have a reversal? 

JACOBS:  Well, let me give you a statistic really quickly that shows you how bad things have become in Afghanistan. 

When the Taliban was thrown out of Afghanistan, we had maybe 600 agents on the ground.  Most of the heavy lifting was done by the Afghans.  The whole idea is to reverse the last, what, seven years of neglect and to retrain the Afghans, to empower local tribal leaders, and make them capable of throwing the Taliban and al Qaeda out of there again.  But you‘re absolutely right about time. 

I don‘t know how much patience the American people have.  And indeed, I don‘t know how much patience the Congress has. 

Mr. Kucinich was right about one thing.  Article 1 of the Constitution gives the Congress the power to decide what we‘re going to do.  All they have to do is cut off funds for this exercise and it will stop immediately.  But I‘m convinced that the Congress will not do that. 

SCHULTZ:  Colonel, great to have you on.  Thanks so much.  We‘ll see you later tonight.  Appreciate it. 

JACOBS:  Thanks, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, “The Drugster” is calling the president a “wimpy little man-child”?  OK. 

We‘ll address that, Mr. Macho, coming up in “Psycho Talk.”  

And Republican fear monger, Tom Coburn, the senator from Oklahoma, is telling seniors that, hey, under the Democrats plan, you‘re going to die sooner. 

Howard Dean and Senator Ron Wyden will respond to that. 

All that, plus the White House party crashers say their lives have been destroyed. 

And the Florida Highway Patrol really cutting Tiger a break, I think. 

You‘re watching THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.

So, they‘ve been lying to you.  What else is new?  The insurance companies and the Republicans are lying when they say premiums are going to skyrocket and go through the roof if health care reform is passed. 

Well, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says premiums for most Americans buying insurance on their own will go down.  For people with good employer coverage, premiums will stay the same. 

Harry Reid is digging in on this big-time.  He says the Senate will work Saturdays, Sundays, whatever it takes to get it done. 

Joining me now is one of those workers, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden. 

Senator, good to have you with us tonight. 

In your opinion, Ron, is there teeth in this CBO report?  I mean, shouldn‘t this really wipe out a bunch of right-wing bullet points who—you know, the folks that are against reform? 

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON:  Ed, there‘s no question that the Congressional Budget Office report is a significant plus.  They looked at all of the major groups, big employers, small employers, individuals, and the fact of the matter is that millions are going to get some real relief from these skyrocketing premiums. 

Now, we still have more to do.  Senator Reid, to his credit, has made it clear that he wants to take steps to hold the insurance companies accountable. 

I think we ought to have public choices, we ought to have private choices, they ought to be available to everybody on day one.  But certainly the Congressional Budget Office yesterday gave us a very strong foundation on which to build. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, that goes against what some insurance companies have been sending out, because mine said that if the public option went in, that they would not be able to control costs, it would go through the roof.  A lot of scare tactics done.  I‘m sorry there‘s not a law against that.

But is it important right now for the Democrats to stay on the offensive down the stretch? 

WYDEN:  Absolutely.  And you‘re pointing out the role of the insurance companies that we have highlighted for some time. 

They are essentially leading the status quo caucus.  They are slicing a fat hog today. 

There is no question that today‘s system is essentially inhumane.  It‘s all about cherry-picking.  It‘s about taking healthy people and sending sick people over to government programs more fragile than they are. 

Reformers want to change that.  We want to, in effect, give an ultimatum to these insurance companies.  We want to be able to say treat folks right or they‘re going to take their business elsewhere.  We‘re going to hold them accountable. 

SCHULTZ:  My friend Alan Grayson, over on the House side, took a lot of flak when he said that the Republican plan was to get sick and die.  Something like that was said on the Senate floor today by Senator Coburn. 

Here it is. 


SEN. TOM COBURN ®, OKLAHOMA:  And if it doesn‘t raise costs, and we‘re truly going to take this money from Medicare, what it‘s going to do to our seniors is—and I have a message for you.  You‘re going to die sooner. 


SCHULTZ:  Senator, respond to that.  You know, no one‘s really demanding an apology the way Grayson was called on to apologize, but it‘s basically the same thing, what Coburn is saying. 

Now, the question is, what about these cuts to Medicare?  Is he telling the truth when he stands up and says that there‘s going to be a half a billion dollars cut out of Medicare and seniors are going to die? 

WYDEN:  First of all, that charge is just flat-out wrong.  What we‘re going to do, what reformers have long thought to do is show that you can improve Medicare, that you can make it more sustainable for the long term without hurting older people. 

There are a whole variety of changes that we think make sense.  There‘s something called bundling which is going to promote efficiency and quality.  We‘re going to help seniors at home. 

There‘s been bipartisan interest in our Independence at Home Program. 

So that charge is just flat-out wrong. 

SCHULTZ:  What about reconciliation?  Is it still on the table?  The word “option” is sure in the vocabulary—option this, option that.  Actually, I was a drop back passer.  I don‘t even like the word “option.” 

But anyway, we‘ll get through it. 

Reconciliation, is that still on the table?  Is that a serious option? 

WYDEN:  Our preference is to do this with the traditional Senate rules.  The fact of the matter is with reconciliation, you can‘t get all of the changes that we would like to see. 

What we want to do is, for example, turn the tables on the insurance industry.  Right now they‘ve been in the driver‘s seat.  It‘s hard to make all of the policy changes that are needed to hold insurance companies accountable... 


SCHULTZ:  But Senator, right now you‘re not going to get 60 votes the way this is set up.  And the other story is, Ben Nelson is coming forward with language on an amendment that‘s very similar to the Stupak amendment.  That, of course, is another roadblock to reforming all of this. 

Is reconciliation still on the table?  And would you go for it? 

WYDEN:  Ed, I can tell you we‘ve had one big vote so far and the reformers were able to stick together. 


WYDEN:  I think the American people—we started yesterday with that budget office report—they‘re seeing that we‘ve got a chance to take some steps that are going to help them get some real relief from these skyrocketing medical bills. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘ll take that as a yes.

WYDEN:  We‘re going to stay together.  You bet.

SCHULTZ:  I‘m going to take that as a yes.  I‘m going to mark down Ron Wyden is for reconciliation.

Because I know you want this to happen.  I know you want this to go through. 

WYDEN:  Senator Reid has made it clear that one way or another, we‘re going to get this done.  The status quo is unacceptable.  The American people want to see real change, and we‘re going to get it done. 

SCHULTZ:  Great to have you on, Senator.  Appreciate your time. 

WYDEN:  Thank you, Ed.

SCHULTZ:  Coming up, Rush says no more about the president acting wimpy.  He may want to stop purring about his beloved cat, Punkin.  Oh, it‘s a priceless clip.  We‘re going to play it next in “Psycho Talk.”   

Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  And in “Psycho Talk” tonight, you know, “The Drugster.” 

He‘s back from Thanksgiving in full “Psycho Talk” form swing, so to speak. 

Yesterday on his show he was talking about Iran wanting to pull out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and he echoed his favorite draft dodger, Dick Cheney, calling Obama weak. 


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  Well, of course Iran sees little point in staying in the Non-Proliferation Treaty because the United States of America is now run by a wimpy little man-child who has no spine. 



SCHULTZ:  “Wimpy little man-child.”  That‘s coming from a guy who dotes on his cat whose name is Punkin?  Listen to wimpy Rush last year talking about how hard it was to deny his cat food for a few hours before she went on to the vet. 


LIMBAUGH:  When I don‘t feed her she just gets this perplexed look on the face.  And I‘m saying, “Sweetie, I can‘t feed you.  You have to go to the doctor tomorrow.” 

She just has these big almond eyes, is looking at me like this doesn‘t make sense to her.  It was just tough. 

Just so happy this morning.  Oh, finally, I‘m going to get to eat. 

And she didn‘t get to eat. 

Heartbreaking.  Heartbreaking stuff. 


SCHULTZ:  So, apparently Obama working to restore America‘s image around the world, an image that Bush and Cheney destroyed, that‘s wimpy?  But fawning over a cat named “Punkin” is what?  Macho? 

Rush, this is “Psycho Talk.” 

Coming up, the White House party crashers are moaning about how their lives have been ruined.  Imagine what they‘ll say when they wind up in the slammer. 

Legal analyst Karen DeSoto will be here to tell us just exactly what charges they could be facing. 

Plus tonight, the president will announce one of the biggest decisions of his presidency.  A lot of Democrats are not on board with this at all in this battle plan.  Former congressman Tom Andrews will weigh in the pros and cons with me in “The Main Event.”

Stay with us.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW.  We‘ve got some excerpts in from the president‘s speech.  We‘ll get to that in a few moments.  But first, more on health care, as the reform moves forward.  Reform, can you do that without a public option?  Well, Howard Dean says it‘s worthless.  That‘s his assessment.  He‘s fighting hard to keep the public option in, against the wishes of folks like Blanche Lincoln, Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman.

Dr. Dean joins us now.  He‘s the former governor of Vermont.  We know that.  Also the chairman of the—former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.  Dr. Dean, good to have you with us tonight. 

HOWARD DEAN, FMR. GOVERNOR OF VERMONT:  Thanks for having me on. 

SCHULTZ:  I‘ve had a lot of media people tell me, Eddie, the battle‘s over.  I don‘t believe that.  But I‘m cheering the fact that you‘re coming out saying—and you said this to Yale, the students over there, that if we don‘t have a public option, this isn‘t reform.  Thank you, Dr. Dean. 

DEAN:  It‘s true.  There‘s not much health insurance reform in this bill.  Maybe at one time there was.  But, you know, when we did this 15 years ago in Vermont, we told the insurance companies not only did they have to take everybody, but they couldn‘t charge the most expensive patient more than 20 percent above what they charged the cheapest patient.  That really makes the insurance affordable. 

They‘re requiring insurance companies to take everybody in the House and the Senate bill, but they charge a minimum of twice as much, and sometimes three or four times as much, based on age.  That‘s not really insurance reform.  So people keep saying, without the public option, there‘s still insurance reform.  You can still insure a whole lot more people.  Not so.  If the system is out of control and there‘s no cost controls, the system isn‘t going to work.  The Republicans are partly right.  It will bankrupt the systems. 

So we don‘t want that.  We want a public option.  Give us the choice. 

We‘ll reform the health care system.  Just give consumers real choice. 

SCHULTZ:  Governor Dean, we have got jobs, Afghanistan, lot of things in the news right now.  Can the Democrats stay focused down the stretch and get this done in your opinion? 

DEAN:  I think so.  Harry Reid is doing a great job moving the Senate forward.  I‘m a big fan of this let‘s work on weekends until we get it done stuff.  Senators hate to do that.  And that‘s going to put a crimp in the Republicans‘ delaying tactics.  I think they‘re doing the best they can.  They‘re working very, very hard to get to something. 

I‘ll tell you about these four folks everybody gets mad at for thwarting the—

SCHULTZ:  Lincoln, Nelson, Landrieu and Lieberman. 

DEAN:  Yeah, I mean, they‘re upset.  People are upset at them because they are thwarting the view—the desires of the American people.  I think even those four want to get to some place that works.  So let‘s see what happens. 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s not a public option, though, Howard, is it?  They‘re not going to—unless they‘re bought off or rented or whatever, their states give them a bunch of money.  They‘re not going to cave on a public option, are they? 

DEAN:  Well, there is going to have to to be some compromise, and it‘s going to have to have some kind of  public option in it.  Otherwise the bill doesn‘t work.  Everybody knows it.  Those folks won‘t be in the majority much longer if they don‘t have a real health care reform bill that actually works.  Passing a health care reform bill and calling it health care doesn‘t make it—health care reform—doesn‘t make it health care reform.  You have to have a real reform bill.  That‘s a public option. 

SCHULTZ:  What do you say to progressive groups that want to put a progressive candidate up against Blanche Lincoln in a primary down in Arkansas?  Is that a fool‘s errand?  Does that have merit, in your opinion? 

DEAN:  I think it does.  The Democrats are pretty progressives.  We‘ve done some polling in Arkansas, Democracy for America, which I consult for.  The majority of people in Arkansas and especially the majority of Democrats, want a public option.  That‘s also true in Nebraska.  So, you know, people want a public option. 

SCHULTZ:  Why aren‘t those democrats with them? 

DEAN:  Well, I‘m not sure.  I don‘t know the answer to that. 

SCHULTZ:  Can we say that they‘re bought and paid for?  You can look at their contributions and who‘s lining their pockets for the next election.  It‘s very clear where the special interests are working these two Democrats over. 

DEAN:  Well, one of the big problems in the campaign finance system we have is when you take contributions from people like that, whether you are or are not honest, you‘re going to get held up as somebody taking money in exchange for a vote.  I think that‘s unfortunate and we need campaign finance reform to fix that problem. 

SCHULTZ:  Blanche Lincoln is polling behind.  There are nine possible candidates on the Republican side in Arkansas.  Blanche Lincoln is behind every single one of them in a poll.  Wouldn‘t it be good money spent on the part of the Democrats to go in there and get somebody who‘s really going to do something about health care reform?  Wouldn‘t that be a good dollar to spend? 

DEAN:  Well, you know, there are some people talking about running in the primary down there.  I‘ve heard the lieutenant governor is thinking about running.  And he‘s just organized a whole series of huge clinics, free clinics.  You know, that could happen. 

Look, you have to stick with your base.  If you don‘t stick with your base, you can‘t win elections.  That‘s what happened in Virginia and New Jersey this year, is the core people that got Barack Obama elected to the presidency didn‘t show up for the gubernatorial candidates. 

SCHULTZ:  They‘re frustrated. 

DEAN:  You have to stand up for something and show you‘re willing to get something done.  Even in Arkansas and Louisiana and Nebraska, which are conservative states, the majority of people want the choice.  A lot of them wouldn‘t pick the public option.  But they think they ought to be able to make that decision for themselves, and not have the government make it for them. 

SCHULTZ:  Dr. Dean, always a pleasure.  Thanks so much.

DEAN:  Thanks for having me on, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  You bet.  For more, let‘s bring in our panel tonight.  Nationally syndicated radio talk show host Bill Press is with us.  Also Michael Graham, radio talk show host on WTKK in Boston. 

Gentlemen, good to get your take on this tonight.  First of all, let‘s talk about where the Democrats are right now.  Michael Graham, who‘s winning this argument with the American people? 

MICHAEL GRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  All I can do, as I always do on your show, Ed, is quote polls.  Everyone gets mad at me. 

SCHULTZ:  I was hoping you‘d be deeper than that tonight. 

GRAHAM:  I brought Pollster.com.  They average all of the polls, OK? 

So if you hate Rasmussen, Gallup or Daily Kos, they average them all.  Here‘s the average, 49 percent of Americans say no to this plan; only 39 percent of Americans say yes.  It‘s a ten-point spread to the bad for your team, to the good for free market and rational health care. 

SCHULTZ:  All right, he‘s got polls tonight.  Bill Press, what about the polls? 

BILL PRESS, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST:  You know, that is such nonsense.  I mean, I thought governing was about doing—I thought governing was about doing the right thing, Michael.  Maybe, you know—is it too strange of a concept? 

Look, Ed, the American people are turned off by all this delay, delay, delay.  But the American people want health care reform.  They know they‘ve been screwed over by the insurance companies.  We are closer to getting it than ever before.  I think Harry Reid‘s the right thing.  If you have to push it through on reconciliation, do it before the end of the year.  Get it done. 

SCHULTZ:  The conservatives went after Alan Grayson when he made a comment on the House floor, the Republican plan was to get sick and die.  Now that was repeated in a different phrase on the Senate floor today. 

Here‘s Senator Coburn from Oklahoma. 


SEN. TOM COBURN ®, OKLAHOMA:  And if it doesn‘t raise costs, and we‘re truly going to take this money from Medicare, what it‘s going to do to our seniors?  I have a message for you: you‘re going to die sooner. 


SCHULTZ:  All right, Michael.  You‘re going to demand an apology the way a lot of righty talkers did for Grayson? 

GRAHAM:  No, I‘m not.  I‘m going to demand an explanation from Bill Press.  Half a trillion dollars out of Medicare and yet people‘s treatment is not going to decline.  Explain away, Bill Press.  Take it away. 

PRESS:  I want the apology first.  I want you to treat Coburn the same way you treated Grayson.  Be a man.  Be a man, Michael. 

GRAHAM:  Why don‘t you apologize to the tens of thousands of seniors in the UK and Canada who do die sooner than they would under our system, because there are limited amounts of health care available?  When you cut half a trillion dollars, stuff happen. 

PRESS:  Let‘s be honest, remember—

GRAHAM:  I am being honest.  I quoted the numbers. 

PRESS:  Let‘s be honest.  This is the same party, the Republican party, under Newt Gingrich, that wanted to wipe out Medicare.  They wanted to destroy Medicare.  Now they oppose even any reforms in Medicare. 

You ask any doctor, you ask any senior, there‘s all kinds of ways to Medicare—the system can be made more efficient.  By doing so, I‘ll say it, seniors will live longer. 

SCHULTZ:  Michael, who has better outcomes, Canada or the United States? 

GRAHAM:  The United States has better outcomes for equivalent patients. 

SCHULTZ:  No, no, no, we‘re talking about better outcomes across the board. 

GRAHAM:  Better outcomes for equivalent patients.  If you cherry pick people in the tough socioeconomic areas in America and compare them to—

SCHULTZ:  More people die in America because of lack of health insurance. 

GRAHAM:  You‘re absolutely—


SCHULTZ:  Let‘s switch gears.  the president speaking tonight about Afghanistan.  Michael, are you on board with the troop increase? 

GRAHAM:  I‘ve never been a supporter for nation building in Afghanistan.  President Bush was wrong to do it.  I‘m in the rubble don‘t want no trouble campaign.  But I understand that I‘m the minority, no problem.  In all seriousness, my question is, what is President Obama‘s vision for the Afghanistan that we leave behind?  I don‘t think I know—

SCHULTZ:  He‘ll explain that tonight.  On the surface, you‘re not in favor.  Bill Press, is this creating a lot of unrest in the progressive community?  What‘s the political backlash for the president? 

PRESS:  You bet, Ed.  I have to tell you, people are still with Obama but they‘re really starting to have serious doubts.  This is not the change that people voted for.  I think, look, it‘s a huge gamble on Obama‘s part.  I think it‘s a big mistake.  I don‘t think we can accomplish—he‘s going to say tonight—I was on the conference call this afternoon—that we‘re going to bring our troops home from July 2011 from Afghanistan. 

SCHULTZ:  We heard all that before. 

PRESS:  We‘re going to do in 18 months what we could not accomplish in eight years?  It‘s not going to work, Ed. 

GRAHAM:  That‘s not the plan.  The plan is—this is get in to get out.  This is a big show of strength.  This is, look, I‘m the tough guy because he has the political problem the left has.  He‘ll have the troops around for a while—

SCHULTZ:  Michael, you actually think the president of the United States is doing this to show he‘s tough? 

GRAHAM:  The president of the United States is going to send 30,000 more soldiers over so we—and as a result, tragically, we‘ll have more unnecessary casualties, so he can begin the withdrawal—

SCHULTZ:  That means McChrystal‘s got it wrong, in your opinion? 

Bill, I‘ll let you finish. 

PRESS:  I want to say, if Obama thought he was going to get any support from the right by sending more troops to Afghanistan, no matter what he does, Michael Graham just proved it, they‘re going to be against it because he‘s Barack Obama. 

SCHULTZ:  Gentlemen, good to have you with us. 

GRAHAM:  Glad to be here. 

SCHULTZ:  Coming Gus, don‘t get too revved up if you see the Palin mobile rolling by.  Chances are the all American nobody is not even inside.  That‘s right, she‘s been going rogue on a private gulf stream jet.  We‘ll talk about it in the playbook.  Stay with us. 


SCHULTZ:  In my playbook tonight, the couple that crashed the White House state dinner last week spoke out this morning for the first time.  They didn‘t give any details about what happened, but they just are insistent upon the fact that they did not crash the party.  They also talked about just how bad the press has been to them through all this. 


TARIQ SALAHI, CRASHED WHITE HOUSE STATE DINNER:  This has been the most devastating thing that‘s ever happened to us.  We‘re greatly saddened by all of the circumstances that have, you know, been involved in portraying my wife and I as party crashers. 


T. SALAHI:  Our lives have really been destroyed. 

M. SALAHI:  Everything we worked for, Matt, for me, 44 years, just destroyed. 


SCHULTZ:  On MSNBC this morning, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs refuted that sob story.  He said this family, this couple, whatever you want to refer to them as—I won‘t say their name.  They don‘t deserve it—they were definitely not invited and the president was not happy they got in. 


ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  I think the president really had the same reaction that the Secret Service had, and that was great concern for how something like this happened.  I think safe to say that he was angry.  Michelle was angry.  I have to tell you, so was the Secret Service. 


SCHULTZ:  Joining me now is defense attorney and former prosecutor Karen Desoto.  Throw the book at these bums.  That‘s what I say.  Karen, we have this—

KAREN DESOTO, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  They got away with it.  God bless them. 

SCHULTZ:  And they‘ve done it before.  Apparently, they went to the Congressional Black Caucus function, where the president spoke.

DESOTO:  They, of course, deny that, Ed. 

SCHULTZ:  It‘s interesting, though.  They didn‘t have their lives ruined when they were escorted out back in September.  But this one is really doing it.  These are fame seekers.  Let‘s get to the legal end of it, Karen.  What are the options here, if any? 

DESOTO:  There‘s not too many options here.  The options obviously are going to be trespass and lying to a Secret Service agent.  That‘s not going to go anywhere, really.  I mean, listen, they let them in.  They used their own name.  There has to be some level of intent.  Proving that is going to be difficult, because, in their minds, they‘re saying they‘re invited and they have e-mails. 

Hey, listen, they got away with it.  They got through the door.  The Secret Service should know for next time, make a note of it.  Guess what, try a little bit better and harder next time. 

SCHULTZ:  It‘s interesting they are talking from, I think, a position of strength.  They say they‘ve got evidence.  They‘ve got these e-mails.  What kind of e-mails would get them off the hook? 

DESOTO:  If the Secret Service was knocking on my door, I would be sure I‘d have a couple e-mails there as well, Ed.  Well, listen, anything, any kind of correspondence back and forth to at least show they did not intentionally go without—there‘s got to be some indication.  There has to be something that they believed, in their heads, that they somehow were invited or could go or could try. 

And you know what?  There are a lot of levels in the White House.  There‘s a lot of young people that work there.  There is a lot of publicists that know how to call and who to call.  And there‘s a lot of banter back and forth.  I‘m not surprised this did happen.  These aren‘t people who don‘t know other people in D.C. and other people in the rink.  So it‘s not that surprising.

But, hey, listen, you have to tighten the reigns here.  You can‘t have a relaxed—how do we know that they‘re not crazy and going to have a gun or pick up a knife or a butter knife and stab somebody?  Obviously they weren‘t a threat.  Look, their lives being ruined is really—come on, Ed, that‘s a little ridiculous.  This is exactly what they wanted.  There were reports that they had their own camera people there.  She spent four hours at the salon.  Listen, she‘s getting a lot of air time.  I think both of them appear to really, really like this. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, let‘s not forget her life has been ruined, all 44 years is what she said. 

DESOTO:  Yeah. 

SCHULTZ:  Here‘s the legal point of it.  What‘s the difference between lying to a law enforcement officer, which is against the law, and lying to a Secret Service agent? 

DESOTO:  Well, you can‘t lie to either one of them.  There‘s charges. 

You have federal levels—federal charges and then there‘s state level.  Obviously the Secret Service is going to be federal charges, which are much more serious, Ed, because when you break the law in the federal system, they have what‘s called an 80 percent rule, and you‘re doing the time.  There‘s no trial intervention or probation.  You know, odds are if you break a federal law, versus a state law, you‘re going to be doing some time in federal prison.  You‘re not going to get any breaks there.  So that‘s a little bit more serious when you‘re lying to a Secret Service person. 

SCHULTZ:  Karen Desoto, thanks so much. 

DESOTO:  Any time.

SCHULTZ:  One last page in my playbook tonight.  It turns out that Sarah Palin‘s bus tour, well, it‘s not really a bus tour.  You see, she‘s going around the country in this bus, right?  At least that‘s what they‘re advertising.  Instead of actually riding on her massive bus from town to town, acting like she‘s one of us, Palin‘s taking a private plane.  That‘s right.  It only costs 4,000 dollars an hour.  What the heck, it‘s a Gulf Stream.  Remember, this is a woman who bragged about how fiscally responsible she was because she got rid of the private plane that the governor‘s office had in Alaska. 


SARAH PALIN, FMR. GOVERNOR OF ALASKA:  That luxury jet was over the top.  I put it on eBay. 


SCHULTZ:  You see, now that she‘s out to make a dollar, it makes sense to be in a Gulf Stream, because you can hit a lot more places to sell books instead of being in a bus.  I guess it‘s not over the top anymore when you‘re politically irrelevant, and you have celebrity status.  So don‘t worry about all those pesky voters out there.  No big deal now, right? 

Up next, the president‘s decision on Afghanistan sure seems to be like more of the same.  Not change we can believe in, question mark?  Former Congressman Tom Andrews, the pros and cons, all of that.  The war moment of the Obama administration.  We‘ll know more about it tonight.  Stay with us.  We‘re right back on THE ED SHOW.


SCHULTZ:  Welcome back to THE ED SHOW on MSNBC.  Looking live at the Eisenhower Hall at West Point, where the president—a little over an hour before President Obama announces his strategy for the war in Afghanistan.  He‘s got a lot of work to do to sell his plan for sending more troops into harm‘s way, especially to his progressive base that definitely put him in office. 

Let me bring in former Congressman from Maine and national director of Win Without War, Tom Andrews.  Congressman, good to have you with us tonight. 

TOM ANDREWS, FMR. CONGRESSMAN:  Ed, thanks for having me on.  Thanks for sending the Gulf Stream out to get me.  I really appreciated that. 

SCHULTZ:  Well, I didn‘t—I didn‘t—that‘s not on my budget.  I didn‘t authorize that.  I want the boss to know that. 

ANDREWS:  I should thank Sarah? 

SCHULTZ:  That‘s right.  OK.  Tom, what does the president have to do tonight for the progressive caucus, for progressives across this country, who are very serious about this confrontation that is now in year number nine?  Is there any convincing that can be done? 

ANDREWS:  Well, I think that the best thing he can do is to say all the media advance that you‘ve heard about what I‘m about to say is wrong.  I‘m not going to escalate in Afghanistan.  I‘m not going to spend 30 billion dollars, on top of the 130 billion dollars already budgeted for Iraq and Afghanistan.  Yes, we‘re going to do nation building, but we‘re going to do nation building right here in the United States, with unemployment rate in excess of 10 percent, in my state of Maine over 10 percent.  We‘re going to set our priorities straight. 

If he wanted to make us thrilled and happy and ready to have his back against the right wing attacks that would obviously come after him, that‘s exactly what he would say.  I‘m afraid this is probably not the venue in which he‘s going to say that. 

SCHULTZ:  All right, we have an excerpt from the president‘s speech tonight.  He‘s going to say “the 30,000 additional troops I‘m announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010, the fastest pace possible, so that we can target the insurgency and secure key population centers.  They will increase our ability to train competent Afghan security forces, and to partner with them so more Afghans can get into the fight.  And they will help create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans.”

Gosh, we‘ve heard this before, haven‘t we, congressman?  And also the fact that a lot of Afghans don‘t want us there.  What do you make of this? 

ANDREWS:  Well, you‘re exactly right.  We‘ve seen this movie before, and it doesn‘t have a very happy ending.  You know, Marine Captain Matt Hoh, who resigned from a foreign service position—had a senior foreign service level position in Afghanistan, resigned a few weeks ago because he believed this is exactly the wrong direction to go in.  He makes a very good point.  He says, look, the single most important thing that is driving the Taliban and their message to the Afghan people that this is a military occupation is the presence of American forces and NATO forces. 

So what this is going to do, according to him, is accelerate the recruitment capacity of the Taliban and make things worse.  We‘re talking about putting gasoline on this fire.  The Taliban have gone from 7,000 troops in 2006 to over 25,000 today.  That‘s not been because of lack of U.S. forces. 

SCHULTZ:  This decision is going to be with the president for a long time.  Tom, thanks for your time tonight.  Congressman Tom Andrews, who is now the national director Win Without War. 

Tonight, I‘ve been asking our audience, do you support the president‘s decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan?  Thirty three percent say yes; 67 percent say no. 

That‘s THE ED SHOW.  I‘m Ed Schultz.  We‘ll be back with a special post-speech edition of THE ED SHOW tonight at midnight eastern and 9:00 p.m. Pacific.  We‘ll see you then.  It‘s all part of our MSNBC special coverage of the president‘s speech that starts at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.  “HARDBALL” is next with Chris Matthews. 



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