Guests: Joan Walsh, Bill Press, Sally Kohn, Michael Blozen, Errol Louis,
David Cay Johnston
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans. And welcome to THE ED SHOW tonight from New York.
Well, today, Speaker Nancy Pelosi formally requested an ethics investigation of her own. Tonight, “The New York Times” reports that 15 minutes before the press conference yesterday, Anthony Weiner told leader Pelosi in no uncertain terms that he was not going to resign his seat. End of discussion, he said.
Well, we‘re still going to discuss it here on THE ED SHOW. Let‘s get to work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: They are really mad at him.
You can just see former Speaker Pelosi is furious.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ (voice-over): Democrats are mad. Republicans are licking their chops. Anthony Weiner refuses to budge.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He would instant message me every day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: As Weiner‘s women continue to come out of the woodwork, accusations from a porn star that he helped coach her on hiding their activity. Tonight, we‘ll find out what his constituents think about all of this.
And the GOP 2012? Tim Pawlenty‘s new plan to shaft the middle class is out. And Michele Bachmann hired a new campaign manager who is already taking shots at Sarah Palin.
SCHULTZ: Good to have you with us tonight. Lots to talk about.
Americans who pay attention to politics know Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York as one of these tough, liberal fighters for the middle class. And that‘s why they revere him so much. Now, the rest of America knows Weiner as a public servant who sent smutty pictures to young women that are so bad.
Weiner is the butt of the joke of every late night comedian stunt out there and right wing talk show host who actually have a strangle on the airwaves across America. He‘s getting beat up pretty good.
Last night, I called for the congressman to take one for the team and step aside and resign. Many of you in our poll, 65 percent of you disagreed with what I said. We‘ll get to that.
Weiner is very popular among liberals. And many believe he really could have been next in line to be the mayor of New York, which I‘m told he really wanted. Now, even some New Yorkers are having second thoughts. We‘ll show you some brand new poll numbers later in the program.
Weiner‘s lies, you have to admit, are going to be a distraction for the Democrats, and I don‘t think they can afford that before the 2012 election. Too much is at stake.
This isn‘t about Weiner. It‘s about the agenda. It‘s about the liberal agenda. It‘s about the Democratic Party saving face and credibility.
Conservatives love to use stories like Weiner‘s to paint the entire party as corrupt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Weiner is the face of Democrats
Democrat family values. He is the epitome of a Democrat culture of corruption, the Democrat culture of erection.
He is wrong on policy. He is an admitted liar. He used his orifice in Congress to conduct his lurid e-perversions. The guy‘s got it all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Now, as usual, the Drugster is completely wrong on his facts. But Weiner has handed Rush basically the gun on the smut talk.
None of the Democrats are running to the cameras even tonight to defend Congressman Weiner. In fact, Harry Reid did the opposite.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: I know Congressman Weiner.
I wish there was some way I can defend him, but I can‘t.
REPORTER: What advice would you give if he asked you?
REID: Call somebody else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Call somebody else. The evidence of Weiner‘s honky-tonk actions will keep on growing until he steps aside. That was my position last night. It‘s my position again tonight. This story is going to continue to drip.
And on Monday, Weiner gave, I thought, a very weak answer when asked about phone sex.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Did you have phone sex with these women? Did you ever have an affair with one of these women?
REP. ANTHONY WEINER (D), NEW YORK: I‘ve never—as I said in my statement, I never met any of these women.
REPORTER: Did you have phone sex?
WEINER: I never was in the same room with them. I never had any physical relationship whatsoever.
I am reluctant to, for their privacy and since their names are coming out, of characterizing our exchanges except that they were consensual.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: And here comes the drip I‘m talking about. Today, a Vegas black jack dealer named Lisa Weiss—well, she came forward and admitted having a nine-month sexting relationship with the congressman. Weiss told “Radar Online” the congressman used a government telephone to have phone sex with her. She said, “I gave him my number and he called me from his office and we proceeded to talk dirty for about 30 minutes.”
Another woman in the Weiner scandal is a porn star, Ginger Lee. Today, TMZ reported Weiner gave the porn star—get this—detailed instructions on how to lie about the relationship and cover it up, and, at one point, offered to have someone on his professional P.R. team give Ginger some advice on how to navigate through all of this.
Now, folks, if either one of these stories proved to be true, Weiner -
well, he‘s going to get hammered by the House Ethics Committee and hand conservatives what they have been waiting for for a long time—a great sex scandal going into 2012 and a talk about morality. I know they do it, too, but it‘s the campaign season.
Now, I want to be very clear tonight. I am not trying to be a member of the moral police squad on this story. But the fact is, if Weiner used his time, energy, and resources to help a porn star, along with phone sex from his congressional office, I think this violates the public trust. He wasn‘t hired to do that.
Weiner has portrayed his trust with the constituents and he basically has used the media to flat out lie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REPORTER: I‘d love to get an answer.
WEINER: That would be reasonable. You do the questions, I do the answers and this jack ass interrupts me. How about that?
The objective of the person who is doing the mischief is to try to distract me from what I‘m doing.
You know I can‘t say with certitude. My system was hacked. Pictures can be manipulated. Pictures can be dropped in and inserted.
This has turned into this kind of international whodunit. What it really is was I think a prank. I‘m treating it like a prank.
Well, let‘s remember this Twitter picture in question is a hack or a prank that someone posted on my Twitter page with someone else‘s name in it.
The photograph doesn‘t look familiar to me, but a lot of people who have been looking at this stuff on our behalf are cautioning me that, you know, stuff gets manipulated.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
SCHULTZ: Weiner didn‘t tell a white lie, not one of those little ones. He used a coordinated media campaign to cover up a lifestyle.
Now I would venture to say that I think Americans really aren‘t into somebody else‘s phone sex and really don‘t care about how this is all minutiaed—if you know what I mean? But I think Americans do care and I care about being used and being lied to repeatedly.
Now, all of us who do cable shows, I can‘t speak for anybody else, but when we come on the air, we want to bring you the truth. We bring you opinion. We can‘t have our own set of facts. And we trust people to come on the air and tell the truth.
And he violated that trust with the very people that he used for promotion. And I have an ethical problem with that.
The fact of the matter is the trust—it is in a big way been disgraced by Congressman Weiner. And the fact that he told Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leader, 15 minutes before the press conference yesterday, that in no uncertain terms that he was going to give up his seat, he continued to have a game plan. And I‘m struggling with that, as well.
Game plan for what? He was not going to step up and say, “I‘m ready to do restitution.”
Now, if constituents are OK with that—that‘s fine. What are their standards?
This story undoubtedly is lowering the bar and that‘s unfortunate.
Get your cell phones out; I want to know what you think. I‘ll ask the same question tonight that I asked you last night, given today‘s new developments. Should Anthony Weiner resign? Text A for yes, text B for no to 622639, and you can always go to our new blog at Ed.MSNBC.com. We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show.
And I don‘t want to be a member of the gotcha or get you police or moral police squad, and I do want the e-mailers to my radio show to know this—that I have been very consistent. I called for the resignation of John Edwards to step out of the race when it first came up back in 2006. David Vitter, John Ensign—I even said on the 6:00 show before I moved to this time slot, that I thought that Charlie Rangel should resign. You can‘t cheat on your taxes and hold credibility, in my opinion.
So, this isn‘t about going out and getting Anthony Weiner. Weiner has been a staunch supporter for Democrats and fighters for the left. It‘s a sad, sad story.
Joining me tonight on the panel is Joan Walsh, editor at large for Salon.com; Sally Kohn, founder of MovementVision.org; and nationally syndicated talk show host, Bill Press.
Joan, we‘ll start with you tonight. Thanks for joining us.
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: Sure.
SCHULTZ: “The New York Times” is reporting that Weiner told Nancy Pelosi he would not resign only 15 minutes before his press conference. Do you think Weiner will ever resign? Is this—is this just part of his overall plan that he will never give in? What do you think?
WALSH: I don‘t know. You know, I don‘t think that‘s clear yet. He obviously tried to dig his heels in and say that it wasn‘t him. He tried that strategy. He lied.
And I agree with you, Ed. You know, the lying is what disturbs me.
He implicated a lot of us.
I defend—I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Let‘s just say that.
You know, I look kind of stupid.
But on the other hand, this was—this was brought to light for political reasons.
SCHULTZ: Why do you look stupid? Why do you say that?
WALSH: Oh, because I gave him the benefit of the doubt publicly and, you know, pointed to the—you know, the motivations of the people who were bringing this to light, which was to destroy him. And, you know, it‘s all kind of creepy and he lied and that‘s the worst thing.
But, on the other hand, you know, this is—this is private business.
You know, I‘m not his wife. She has reasons to be upset.
But if we really lower the bar, as you referred to, to this level where you can‘t accuse him of hypocrisy, he‘s not a family values moralizer. You can‘t accuse him yet of breaking the law. I‘ll get back to that.
At this point, I‘m not going to join a call for him to resign—
WALSH: -- because I don‘t think we have all the facts. I‘m proud of Nancy Pelosi for saying she‘s going to investigate him. That‘s where Democrats are different because we take --
SCHULTZ: This investigation is going to tell us whether his system was hacked or not. And so, that all is going to come out.
Bill Press, do you feel any different about it tonight with new developments that have come out? Using his phone, allegedly in his office, helping the porn star trying to navigate through this with a P.R. help offering that? What about that, Bill?
BILL PRESS, BILL PRESS SHOW: First of all, Ed, look, I admire you for sticking to your guns. I‘m going to stick to mine. No, I don‘t think he should resign.
A couple points, real quickly, right? We do not know he did anything illegal. Nobody has suggested that.
PRESS: But he did do anything illegal.
SCHULTZ: But he did lie.
PRESS: He lied. Absolutely, he lied.
PRESS: He lied repeatedly. He lied to his wife. He lied to us. He lied to his colleagues. And that is totally unacceptable. I point it out.
Others have lied. Lying in Washington, D.C is not a cause for losing your job or else this would be a ghost town.
SCHULTZ: Well, that takes us to the next level. Andrew Breitbart claims that he‘s got an X-rated picture—
SCHULTZ: -- of Weiner, and he‘s using it as insurance.
SCHULTZ: Here is what he said on the “Today” show this morning.
PRESS: Got it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, TODAY SHOW: So, would you use that photo to protect these women?
ANDREW BREITBART, BLOGGER: You know, I‘m not thinking of it that way. But I vernacular it in my possession and I guarantee you, he would use this against me and the people on the left side of the blogosphere would have used this against me. I could have put that out there and his career would have been over today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Sally Kohn, what do you make of that?
SALLY KOHN, MOVEMENTVISION.ORG: Look, this isn‘t about judging Anthony Weiner. This is about judging what‘s in the best interests of the country. And the fact of the matter is he‘s becoming the Tiger Woods of politics.
I mean, look, the number one thing that Democrats have to do in this country is restore trust in government. And you can‘t get the American people to believe in the political system if you don‘t give them leaders that they can believe in.
SCHULTZ: But, Bill Press, if it‘s true that there is an x-rated picture out there, you‘ve got a congressman who has sent an x-rated picture through the Internet. I mean, you don‘t think that‘s grounds for dismissal in the arena of public opinion?
PRESS: Hey, Ed, wait, wait. We‘re playing right wing politics here now. Of course.
SCHULTZ: No, Bill, I‘m not—no. We are not playing right wing politics.
Bill, hold on. Hold on. You‘ve done these shows. You know how this works. This is not right wing politics.
This is absolute. There are absolutes. This man is now being accused of sending out pornography on the Internet. He is also a—repeatedly been a liar on all of these talk shows, Bill. This has nothing to do with left and right at this point.
PRESS: Ed, have you seen the x-rated picture? Are you going to show it tonight? Have you seen it?
SCHULTZ: I‘m asking you if that is a game-changer if that is true.
PRESS: Well, I was trying to answer the question. Ed, yes, if that is out there, if that comes out there, he is gone. He is absolutely gone.
But we don‘t know that yet. We don‘t know that he used government resources yet on his cell phone, Ed.
SCHULTZ: But you know who does that, Bill?
PRESS: And I don‘t think we ought to let the right wing set the agenda here and listen to Rush Limbaugh and think that --
SCHULTZ: Excuse me?
PRESS: -- Anthony Weiner is the face of the Democratic Party.
SCHULTZ: I‘m embarrassed that you compare me to Rush Limbaugh, number one.
PRESS: I‘m not, Ed. I‘m not doing that.
SCHULTZ: I just want to say—I want to say this: there is one person that knows if there is a picture out there and it‘s not Andrew Breitbart. It‘s Anthony Weiner. And he needs to step up and if he knows that there is a picture out there that‘s even more evidence and more damaging to the American governmental process and it‘s very damaging to the Democrats, and that‘s exactly why Harry Reid is not going to step up ands support him.
Your thoughts, Joan Walsh.
WALSH: Well, yes. I mean, I do think that photo is probably a game-changer. But again, Ed, I would never accuse you of being a right winger. I‘m just saying, you know, if we let the other side keep taking scalps, that determines who our leaders are.
SCHULTZ: The right wing isn‘t taking a scalp. Anthony Weiner has been driving this bus. You folks are in denial.
KOHN: I have to say, I think that, you know, the most horrifying thing about this entire story is we have infinitely more important things to be focused on as a country.
KOHN: And like it or not this is a distraction. He is going to be an albatross around the neck of the Democratic Party.
And more importantly, look, he‘s supposed to be doing the important work of the American people who elect these men and women. And, unfortunately, more often, men than women, and can‘t—we can‘t afford this distraction, not even one distraction. Not even one member of this office to be distracted. They have more important things to do.
WALSH: No one has proven that he neglected his duties.
Look, you know, I‘m with Bill. I call for an investigation. I think that‘s great. We‘ll see what they find.
But at this point to say that we can know he—that he neglected his duties, we can‘t. There‘s no evidence of that. That he used his congressional phone, maybe he did. They can find that out and they will look into it.
I‘m just very uncomfortable. Look, if we adhere to this standard, Bill Clinton would never have been president and I happen to think Bill Clinton was a pretty good president.
PRESS: I want to pick up on that, Ed, if I can for just a second. Listen, I‘ve been thinking about Bill Clinton through this whole thing. I heard all these arguments, all the same arguments being made.
WALSH: All of them.
SCHULTZ: And I think Bill Clinton got impeached.
PRESS: That he‘s an embarrassment. He‘s the face of the party. I took the position at the time.
SCHULTZ: I think Bill Clinton was impeached. Let‘s not redo history here.
PRESS: Talking about whether he should have resigned. People are calling him to resign. I don‘t think he should have. I‘m glad he didn‘t. He is stronger today than he ever was before.
PRESS: -- calling for his resignation. That‘s all.
KOHN: I think it was wrong then. It‘s wrong now. We have too many public officials who are allowing to abuse—particularly male public officials who are allowing to abuse their positions and not holding up the candle. Look, we need to be a party of integrity.
SCHULTZ: And let me be very clear—I don‘t think the American people in my opinion care about the sexting or care about the phone sex.
What they care about is the lying and what they care about is what these
public officials—this one in particular was doing on company time. I
mean, if, in fact, he was involved in this, and more is going to come out -
and he knows it, he knows it, there is one person that knows the story here and that‘s Anthony Weiner.
And I think for him to tell Nancy Pelosi under no uncertain terms he is going to be the judge, jury, executioner in all of this after all that he‘s been through, I think that is really continuing to game the system.
WALSH: But he‘s not the judge, jury, and executioner. There are other people who will have a stay about his fate as we learn more.
And, look, Ed, I agree with you on one thing—if he‘s done more, if there are things that the country will be rightfully very concerned about, he is the only one who knows and if that‘s true, he should resign. But if what we know is out there and we‘re going to, you know, let this moral outrage determine what people should do, again, I come back to Bill Clinton.
WALSH: And Bill Clinton, at least they had the—at least they could say he lied under oath. That was their cover.
SCHULTZ: All right. Joan Walsh, Sally Kohn, and Bill Press—great to have all of you on tonight. I appreciate it so much.
Remember to answer tonight‘s question there at the bottom of the screen. I want to know what you think.
New polling shows there are vastly different opinions on Congressman Weiner‘s behavior among New Yorkers. I‘ll talk with someone from his district and find out his opinion on the congressman to see if it‘s changed.
And 10 years ago today—I guess we should celebrate this—George W. Bush performed the magic trick. He took billions in surplus and turned it into trillions of debt. Ten years later, we‘re still paying for the Bush tax cuts.
It‘s all coming up. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: What about New Yorkers? I think you‘d get New Yorkers to agree on the color of the sky some days. So, unsurprisingly, opinions are split when it comes to the political future of Anthony Weiner.
First, you have a poll by Survey USA that asks New York City residents if Congressman Weiner should resign or stay in office. Forty-six percent said he should quit, while 41 percent said he should stay in office, 13 percent were unsure.
Now, compare that to a new poll from Marist College asking registered New York City voters the very same question -- 51 percent said he should stay and only 30 percent said he should step down, 18 percent don‘t know.
In both polls, interestingly enough, women were less inclined to see the congressman resign than men, 42 percent to 50 percent the first poll, and 28 percent to 33 percent in the Marist poll, which surveyed registered voters. That poll also asked voters if they want Anthony Weiner to run for mayor of the city of New York, 56 percent said no.
But the real test of the congressman is going to come from his district, a constituent from Queens, New York, joins me next to say whether or not he still supports the congressman.
Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: No doubt countless politicians have survived scandals and ultimately it comes down to the voters. What are they going to put up with? Will they forgive their elected official even if they don‘t forget what he or she has done? Are the transgressions of today over shadowed by the accomplishments of the past?
According to at least one constituent in Weiner‘s district, the answer is no. The sign reading “Resign pervert Weiner” was taped to the window of the congressman‘s Brooklyn office, but no one in the district agrees. Not everyone in the district agrees.
Here are some comments from other Weiner constituents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People make mistakes. People do silly things like that. This is what technology has gotten. This is what it brings out in people, sexting and pictures and things like that. He does a good job. Let him do his job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don‘t think he should resign. It‘s personal business between him and his wife. That‘s what I think.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Resign for that? No. I think he is one of the most effective, decent congressmen out there. That‘s why this thing probably blew up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Joining me tonight, another constituent who feels the same way, Michael Blozen is with us tonight. He is a resident of Queens, New York, who lives in Congressman Weiner‘s district.
Great to have you with us.
MICHAEL BLOZEN, WEINER CONSTITUENT: Thank you, Ed.
SCHULTZ: One thing about New Yorkers, I can tell you from being in the Midwest for many years—New Yorkers are brutally honest.
BLOZEN: Yes, sir.
SCHULTZ: Where do you stand on the congressman?
BLOZEN: I voted for—well, let me go back.
Number one, I forgave Kennedy and his brother, and I voted for Clinton, even after his scandals, and I would vote for representative Weiner again. He is one of the strongest and clearest voices we have on progressive issues. If we‘d lose him we lose leverage in the Congress. We can‘t afford to do that.
In addition, he‘s got seniority and he really does represent our views on a number of issues.
SCHULTZ: How do you feel New Yorkers in his district will finally come down on this issue? Do you think that the majority of people feel the way you do about this?
BLOZEN: I hope so because I think people should separate their personal lives from their professional lives. If he did this while on government time, well, don‘t our senators and congressmen work 24 hours a day?
And if he used a government BlackBerry—well, didn‘t Governor Christie just use the helicopter? And he paid that money back? So, let Congressman Weiner pay the money back.
But I don‘t think those should be things that yank him out because the Republicans speaking with one voice as they do so well should be able to get away with this.
SCHULTZ: Was there any violation of the public trust in your opinion?
BLOZEN: No. I believe personal lives are personal.
SCHULTZ: But he did a media tour, continually lying trying to get the media off the story.
BLOZEN: Yes, he did.
SCHULTZ: And then announcing he is not going to answer any more questions. What about that?
BLOZEN: Yes, he did and it was a lie. There was no doubt about it.
And he lied repeatedly and he had a strategy to lie.
But it was about a personal matter. It was something he wanted concealed. And in our 24-hour news environment nothing is concealable and he made the double mistake of thinking he‘d get away with hiding it.
SCHULTZ: What if there is, as Breitbart claims there is, an x-rated photo there? I mean, there is one person that would know that, I made that comment the last segment about—it would be Anthony Weiner.
BLOZEN: It‘s bad, but it‘s still personal.
SCHULTZ: It‘s personal?
BLOZEN: It‘s personal. Did he send it to all his constituents? No.
Did he put it on a public web page? No. It was personal.
SCHULTZ: Do you view this as normal behavior?
BLOZEN: No. It‘s aberrant. He‘s got a problem. He‘s got a problem.
He‘s not being satisfied somewhere in his life, but that‘s a personal
I didn‘t vote for him for his sex life or that kind of thing. I voted for him for his views on women‘s right to choose, on the environment, on education, on saving Social Security, on Medicare, on Medicaid. I just went through the process with my mother who passed away. The forms are tremendous.
Why do the Republicans have us back biting each other when the richest people are taking all the tax cuts?
SCHULTZ: I don‘t disagree with that. But the fact of the matter is, this isn‘t left or right or blue, green, center, whatever. This is about a man‘s character, is it not? And you put your trust in this man to do what? Tell the truth.
BLOZEN: He‘s my congressman.
SCHULTZ: Well, isn‘t that—don‘t you expect the truth out of your congressman?
BLOZEN: Yes, I do.
SCHULTZ: Don‘t you think when he goes on a media tour—
SCHULTZ: -- and now he is using on company time to offer P.R. services for a porn star to navigate through this?
BLOZEN: I don‘t like it, but it was a compounded error when he was trying to cover up his tracks on a matter that was and remains fundamentally personal. This is between him and his wife.
SCHULTZ: No really?
BLOZEN: She should have the biggest problem more than anybody.
SCHULTZ: But you see, that‘s part of the story that I don‘t think many people are interested in. Seriously. Because, you know, they‘ve got to work their situation out.
But can you really sit here tonight and tell me that you think that Congressman Weiner was focused on doing the people‘s work? This is not a simple indiscretion. This is a pattern of behavior and a pattern of lying to the people.
BLOZEN: For the last two weeks or ten days, yes. It was a pattern of lying.
SCHULTZ: Any restitution at all? Saying he is sorry and going back to work is just fine?
BLOZEN: Fine him. You know, chastise him publicly. But throw him out of office? No. He is one of the strongest representatives we have.
SCHULTZ: Now, you mentioned about all the different things that Anthony Weiner has supported and that‘s why you voted for him. So, obviously, you want to defeat the right wing as an American. I mean, you‘re a Democrat, a liberal out there.
BLOZEN: Actually, I‘m a registered Republican.
SCHULTZ: Well, that‘s not good.
BLOZEN: Well, there is a reason. New York City always votes Democratic down the line and if you want to have any leverage in a primary, vote Republican.
SCHULTZ: OK. The point I‘m trying to make here is that isn‘t this
politically going to hurt the Democrats? All of this swirling around 2012
isn‘t there too much at stake?
BLOZEN: Ed, aren‘t people like you and Rachel Maddow and everybody else on MSNBC fanning the flames of this fire?
SCHULTZ: No, no. This is what Americans are focused on in my judgment. And I have a show and this is what I think they‘re focused on.
This is—I have been consistent all along on stuff like this when it happens to elected officials. I think if we can‘t get the truth out of politicians, then what do we have for a government? Hell, no wonder we got deficits. No wonder we went to war on a lie.
I criticized Bush for lying. I criticized Cheney for lying. I mean, the list goes on and on.
But we sit here and say, well, he‘s a Democrat, he‘s a liberal, so we got to leave him alone. I‘m not down that road.
BLOZEN: I didn‘t say that. My distinction is that these are matters personal not public.
SCHULTZ: I think, is your vote personal?
BLOZEN: Nobody knows my vote unless I give them—unless I tell them publicly what it is.
SCHULTZ: Michael Blozen, good to have you with us. Appreciate you coming in. And thanks for watching the program.
BLOZEN: I do religiously.
SCHULTZ: The inside political game for Congressman Anthony Weiner. It could get far worse. Fellow Democrats are getting bullied into giving up routine campaign contributions from Congressman Weiner. That‘s a distinction that needs to be made here. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. There is another chapter to this story. Democratic Congresswoman Betty Sutton of Ohio will give campaign money she received from Congressman Anthony Weiner to charity. That is 1,000 dollars. It‘s fairly common for lawmakers to give their colleagues donations from their own Political Action Committees or their own campaign committees.
And Congresswoman Sutton‘s reelection campaign had 1,000 dollars from Anthony Weiner. But the National Republican Campaign Committee put out this statement this morning: “Congresswoman Sutton now faces a choice between returning the scandal tainted donation she has received from Congressman Weiner or silently condoning her colleague‘s lewd and bizarre behavior that could lead to a potential ethics violation.”
Give me a break. Then the Ohio Republican Party decided to pile on. They said in a statement “the longer Betty Sutton holds on to Anthony Weiner‘s 1,000 dollars, the more apparent it is that she publicly condones his disgusting behavior.”
Aren‘t they the judgment police? Now you know my opinion, of course, about Congressman Weiner. I‘ve said that I think he should step aside for the good of the party, good of the order, and he violated the public trust. But there is nothing tainted about campaign contributions from Congressman Weiner.
That‘s ridiculous. Outrageous, in fact. The routine donation had nothing to do with the mess that Congressman Weiner now finds himself in, but Republicans have jumped all over this to bully Democrats. And a second Democrat has caved.
Democratic Congressman Tim Waltz of Minnesota has now donated to charity 3,000 dollars that he received from Congressman Weiner. I guess it‘s all part of the drift of the story.
Next, the political headache for Congressman Weiner could even get worse. He may be redistricted out of office. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, well, he left his state with a six billion dollar deficit but he wants us to believe that he can balance the federal budget using what? Google?
Details coming up in Psycho Talk.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Thanks for watching tonight. Well before Congressman Anthony Weiner got himself in this mess, he said he thought redistricting for the state of New York should remain in the hands of elected officials. In fact, he said he was against nonpartisan redistricting. He said “I‘m concerned about the idea of having nonpartisan redistricting when we have states like Texas that are doing the same partisan things imaginable to eliminate Democratic seats.”
So here‘s the problem. Anthony Weiner may now find himself the target of some very interesting redistricting in the state of New York. Following the latest Census, two New York congressional seats are going to be eliminated.
Let‘s bring in the host of New York One‘s “Inside City Hall,” Errol Louis. Good to have you with us.
ERROL LOUIS, NEW YORK ONE: Good to see you.
SCHULTZ: Is this a real possible reality here that he could be out of Congress based on this issue?
LOUIS: Very possible. It was talked about today. The first redistricting meeting happened to take place today, as a matter or fact. And that is all the buzz in the political class. What will happen?
There is—there are going to be two seats lost, more than any other states, Ohio and New York losing two seats. Normally, you‘d lose one upstate, one downstate. That is just some local politics here, New York state politics.
What is the downstate seat going to be? Well, he‘s got a target on his back. He‘s got some cards to play. He‘s got an ample campaign kitty that‘s not going to get used. He‘s got about four million dollars he was going to use to run for mayor.
He can now use that to make some friends, if you will, in the state legislature, spread some of that money around. He may have the Clintons still in his corner. Let‘s not forget, his mentor is the senior senator here, Chuck Schumer.
So they can‘t just run roughshod over him. But there is a real question as to whether or not he can survive this process.
SCHULTZ: Survive the process. Is he running out of Democratic allies? Do you think that there will be state legislators who will protect him and do everything they can to make sure that he doesn‘t get redistricted?
LOUIS: I think he‘s going to go and make some friends. Again, he‘s got a—he‘s raised a lot of money. I don‘t know how much more he can raise. His donors are still I think—we‘ve yet to hear from them about whether or not they‘re going to stick with him.
But, no, there are a lot of state politicians that he has made friends with. This guy has been in politics for his whole adult life.
SCHULTZ: Errol, there are conflicting reports out there—or poll numbers that are conflicting about whether he should stay or go. Where do you think this—
LOUIS: You showed ours, the New York One/Marist College Poll. I think it‘s about right. About 52 percent say that he ought to run for reelection. But 56 percent say don‘t run for mayor. So they‘re saying, no higher office for you right now. But, you know, you should go ahead and run.
By the way, running doesn‘t mean you win. I was interested to see your last guest. But the reality is the voters—and there is no shortage of ambitious politicians in the ninth district.
SCHULTZ: That is an interesting comment. Weiner is acting like he‘s the only one that can serve. He is doing everything he can to save his job. There‘s no question about that. And there is no restitution here other than saying that I‘m sorry. And there needs to be more than that, in my opinion.
But is there anything else that can come out that could change the situation?
LOUIS: Well, I imagine. You‘ve talked about the drip, drip, drip. Yes, the reality is you parse that long press conference yesterday, he said a number of things that don‘t really quite square with the facts as we seem to know them. And an investigation by a hostile ethics panel, which is what he‘s going to get in the House, who knows what they‘re going to find?
They‘re not going to limit themselves to what he wants them to look at.
SCHULTZ: This opens up I think, Errol, a whole Pandora‘s box of conversation and questions and expectations that we have of elected officials. Is it OK for representatives to be distracted by sexual nonsense like this? I mean, is this where we are in America?
SCHULTZ: You know, there seem to be varying—you know, just from the folks that you had on, there seems to be a wide range of opinion. There are people who will be directly affected by him being distracted.
Some of them are saying I don‘t particularly care.
Seems a little hard to believe, but that‘s their guy. They hired him.
And if they want to fire him, I guess it‘s going to be their call.
SCHULTZ: Miss you on the radio, guy. Errol Louis, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.
Tim Pawlenty is trying to get some presidential buzz going with a tax cut that costs more than the Bush tax cuts. And he wants us to Google our way to balancing the budget. You know where that puts him. Right in the zone.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. OK everybody, buckle your seat belts. It‘s time for the Bachmann 2012 ride to start. Michele Bachmann hasn‘t officially announced that she is running, but I think we can count her in.
You see, she‘s participating in a presidential debate next week in New Hampshire. And she has hired Republican strategist Ed Rollins, who ran Mike Huckabee‘s campaign in 2008. Rollins is already hard at work. He went on radio today and took some shots at Sarah Palin for being a quitter. Then he tried to make his new boss sound Reagan-esque.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED ROLLINS, ADVISER TO REP. MICHELE BACHMANN: She‘s a great, great communicator. And I would say in this race right today, she is probably the best communicator now that Mike Huckabee is not in there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: I don‘t deny Bachmann is a good communicator. She knows what she wants to say. Her message is very clear. But I do have a problem with what it is.
I agree that she has the potential to be the Republican nominee. She does. Even former Obama spokesman Bill Burton thinks that Bachmann has a shot. He says the Republican nominee will be either Romney, Bachmann, or Tim Pawlenty.
Among those three, Bachmann seems to have the wing nut vote locked up. Tim Pawlenty is trying to catch up. His economic plan would eliminate the entire federal government. And that puts him in Psycho Talk next.
SCHULTZ: And in Psycho Talk tonight, 2012 hopeful Tim Pawlenty says he has a better deal for the American economy. Remember now, this is the guy who left Minnesota with a 6.2 billion dollar budget deficit at the end of his tenure as governor.
He has no credibility on the economy, in my opinion. But he took a crack at it anyway today in Chicago. He wants to slash taxes by 7.8 dollars trillion over the next ten years. That‘s three times the cost of the Bush tax cuts.
Pawlenty has a plan to make up for the lost revenue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIM PAWLENTY, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT: We can start by what I call the Google test. If you can find a service or a good available on Google or the Internet, then the federal government probably doesn‘t need to be providing that good or service.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: That‘s a dandy, isn‘t it? Pawlenty wants to eliminate everything that can be Googled. Well, you can Google things like retirement, or senior citizens, and of course healthcare. So if Pawlenty had his way, Social Security, Medicare, well they‘d be gone. Of course, the Republicans, they want to get rid of those anyway.
But T-Paw‘s plan goes much further than that, because you can also Google things like defense contractors, private investigators, and security firms. That would kind of screw things up for the righties, wouldn‘t it? Which would rule out military spending, the FBI, and law enforcement.
Dude, it‘s the 21st century. You can find anything on the Internet.
Haven‘t you been watching the news?
If you get rid of everything you can Google, you‘d be president of nothing. So Tim Pawlenty is saying he wants to use a Google test to balance the budget is truly unbalanced Psycho Talk.
He promised us jobs and economic growth. Instead, George W. Bush gave us tax cuts. Well, ten years later, we‘re going to take a look at what could have been, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We recognize loud and clear the surplus is not the government‘s money. The surplus is the people‘s money. And we ought to trust them with their own money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Yeah. Now we‘re playing with China‘s money. Ten years ago today, George W. Bush looked the American people in the eye and promised us his tax cut would do big things for the country. He promised us the same with another round of tax cuts in 2003.
Well, instead, with a stroke of his pen, Mr. Bush took that budget surplus and turned it into a mountain of debt, 2.5 trillion to be exact.
Bush claimed the cuts would drive economic growth, create jobs. But what
followed, question mark,
The “New York Times” asked last November, quote, “the decade with the slowest average annual growth since World War II. That statement is true even if you forget about the great recession and simply look at 2001 through 2007.”
But it didn‘t have to be this way, folks. Think Progress, they did the math. They said for the same price as the Bush tax cuts, we could have sent tens of millions of students to college, retrofitted every household in America with the capacity to generate alternative energy, hired millions of firefighters, police officers, given kids health care coverage, or put millions more teachers into the classrooms.”
Pretty steep price to pay if you ask me. Now to be fair, the Bush tax cuts, well, they did help out roughly one percent of the country. One patriotic millionaire told the “Huffington Post” that the Bush tax cuts allowed him to build a dance floor in his house. Yet another says that he was able to buy a bigger boat.
Quote, “the problem is it was built in Italy.”
Joining me now is Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Cay Johnston. He‘s the author of “Free Lunch, How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense and Stick You With The Bill.”
He‘s a columnist for “Tax Notes.” Welcome, Mr. Johnston. Great to have you with us tonight.
So we‘ve already endured a decade of stagnant growth. What‘s going to happen if these Bush tax cuts get extended even further, as it might happen in 2012?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, “TAX NOTES”: Well, very simply, we‘ll have a worsening of the conditions we have. We‘ll have more and more debt being taken on by the federal government and we won‘t be meeting basic human needs and services that we have.
We already have food borne illness rates in this country that are significantly higher than in any of the other modern countries. We‘re firing school teachers left and right. At the same time we‘re doing this and cutting taxes, Ed, we continue to be giving away money in various incentives and gifts to billionaires and monopolists all over the country.
So if we continue down this road, there will be fewer jobs, less wealth, and we‘ll all be much worse off.
SCHULTZ: Well, Tim Pawlenty is out there saying that he wants to go even further. Is that even possible?
JOHNSTON: You know, I chuckled as I listened to you talk about that, Ed, because apparently he doesn‘t understand that all Google does is connect you to something. It doesn‘t do anything. So when he connects you -- when Google connects you to a library or a government place that does business, all it‘s doing is telling you—helping you find it. They‘re not doing any work. They‘re just connecting you together.
And I marvel that he does not grasp this fundamental about what Google is about.
SCHULTZ: Ten years after the fact, what is the single biggest failure of these Bush tax cuts in your opinion?
JOHNSTON: Oh, it‘s the destruction of jobs all over the place. President Bush—candidate Bush said that if we elected him instead of that other guy, we‘d be better off than we were in the year 2000. Well, incomes are down 2.7 trillion dollars for the eight years of his administration and worse since then.
It‘s continued on a downward path as the tax cuts have continued. The government—federal income tax revenues are down a third from 2001, when the Bush tax cuts started, to today when you look at them per American. A one-third fall.
And at the same time, of course, we‘re continuing to not have the money for the things that will create wealth in the future: research, education, public health, infrastructure.
SCHULTZ: So 2012 is all about priority and what the American people want. David Cay Johnston, thanks for your time tonight. Appreciate it.
Coming up, back to the scandal surrounding Congressman Anthony Weiner.
This is THE ED SHOW. Stay with us. I‘ll have a comment.
SCHULTZ: And finally tonight, I want to finish where we started this evening. Sometimes in this business, we come across stories that we take absolutely no joy or pleasure in covering. In the Anthony Weiner ordeal certainly fits that category for this broadcaster.
There is nothing worse than kicking somebody when they‘re down. I know. I‘ve been there. Piling on, convicting someone in the arena of public opinion. But in an open society and a democracy, I guess you could say the rocks go with the farm. The territory can get rough.
That‘s why they call it public service. They call it for a reason. It‘s about you, the people, what we deserve and what we expect. And many times our expectations are not met. Every night on this program, I call out politicians and opinion makers for pushing ideas, policies that I don‘t think benefit middle classers and American workers in this country, the American middle class.
Most of the time, I‘m getting after Republicans. I think for the most part they‘re not looking out for you. And when they lie about the consequences of the policies they‘re pushing, I call them out on it and have been very consistent on that.
But the Weiner story is all about trust and responsibility. And like I said, I don‘t get any joy or pleasure getting after that story and him. I agree with most of his positions. His fight for single payer health care on the House floor was absolutely outstanding in 2009 for American families.
But he stuck his fingers in his eye on the American public with all the lies that he told last week repeatedly. No one is throwing the congressman under the bus. He‘s been driving the bus, one interview after another, booking himself on shows.
Everyone‘s going to render judgement on some level, whether it be moral, ethical, and what is now socially acceptable behavior. This I think lowers the bar.
At the end of the day, without being a member of the moral police force in this country, we‘re going to decide what we want from our elected officials. And I don‘t care who it is. An elected official taking the taxpayer dollars along with a pension and healthcare benefits, that‘s part of the rocks on the farm. It‘s part of the good life. And I don‘t think it‘s too much for any of us who pay taxes and abide by the laws to ask for and expect the truth from elected officials. That may be a reach today, but at least we can keep reaching. I hope the congressman gets through this and I hope we get through it.
Tonight in our survey, I asked you, given today‘s developments, should Anthony Weiner resign? 29 percent of you say yes. 71 percent of you said no. That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz. “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell starts right now. We‘ll see you back here tomorrow night.
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