Guests: Melissa Harris-Perry, Mike Papantonio, Mike Rogers, John Nichols, Mark Potok
ED SCHULTZ, HOST: Good evening, Americans. And welcome to THE ED SHOW, tonight from New York.
Well, here we are. It‘s Wednesday night. And I guess I have to say, I told you so. The calls for Congressman Anthony Weiner to step aside—well, they‘re getting louder and louder, and they are now coming from inside the party. And people are choosing up sides.
And tonight, Congressman Weiner‘s office is speaking out on those X-rated pictures and if that‘s really his deal.
This is THE ED SHOW. Let‘s get to work.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ANDREW BREITBART, BLOGGER: By the way, I‘m not releasing it. I‘m not releasing it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCHULTZ (voice-over): Well, the naked picture is out. Today, we find out that Weiner‘s wife is pregnant as a leading Democrat calls for him to go. How long can he hang on?
I‘ll talk to Melissa Harris-Perry and Mike Papantonio.
Hypocrites on the right continue to dodge questions on their sex scandals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: But I‘m not relitigating the David Vitter situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: The Bachmann campaign is in real trouble before it ever got started.
And in Wisconsin, you will not believe the games Scott Walker‘s boys are playing to try and destroy the middle class.
SCHULTZ: Good to have you with us, folks.
This might not be a very good show for me because I‘m not real happy the way this is unfolding. I hate to sit here tonight and tell you, I told you so. But you see, there‘s been Monday‘s news, and then, there was Tuesday‘s news, and now, there‘s more developments today. And this is exactly what I talked about on Monday night that this was going to string out all week long.
And you know what? There‘s probably going to be Thursday news and Friday news.
And what we have right now is liberals banging away at one another. Don‘t cover it. Don‘t say anything. You can‘t do this. You can‘t do that. It‘s hurting the movement. Now, we‘re at each other‘s throats.
Congressman, I hope you are watching tonight.
The Anthony Weiner story has taken two very sad turns. Tonight, we have learned that Anthony Weiner‘s wife, Huma Abedin, is pregnant. She is overseas tonight with her boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The news comes on the very same day professional character assassin Andrew Breitbart showed an X-rated picture of Anthony Weiner‘s naked genitals to a couple of radio shock jocks who just couldn‘t get enough of it.
Greg Hughes, of course, he goes by Opie on “Opie and Anthony.” I‘ve never even heard of these guys before. They snapped a picture of Breitbart‘s phone which was displaying the picture, but then they are saying, “Well, wait a minute. We didn‘t do it. A viewer did it as the video was being streamed.” Come on!
Hughes tweeted the picture and, of course, now, it‘s everywhere—as we predicted. I have a lot more coming up on Andrew Breitbart‘s dirty bag tricks later on in the show.
The image is so offensive. Of course, we can‘t show it on this program or any other program. And this is exactly the way the information, as I predicted, was going to come out through the week. And it‘s going to be tough for all of us to consume this.
You know, our job in this business is to get viewers. And I don‘t know if this is going to get viewers or not. But I‘m going to do it because I feel like it‘s the correct thing to do for the progressive movement, which I will explain in a moment.
For me, and for many of us, behind the scenes producing, the Anthony Weiner story is undoubtedly as sad as it gets. The progressive policies which I talk about and which our producers work on every single night on this program or what I and what we believe in to help the downtrodden to get fairness in this country, to work for the poor, to work for the middle class, to save American workers in this country.
Anthony Weiner—you cannot deny this, folks. You can‘t deny it. He has been incredibly effective when it comes to being an advocate and a legislator for all of the policies that we talk about—health care, Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, stimulus package, money to get businesses moving and the economy going, job creation. He was a big fighter for that. And, of course, against tax cuts for the rich, which has really screwed up our economy over the last 10 years.
Now, we don‘t agree on everything, but in most policy areas, we‘re pretty doggone close.
Now, I don‘t believe that Representative Weiner can continue and be an effective advocate for all of these issues after the way this has all come down and the way he‘s conducted himself. He spent 10 days lying to his constituents and used the media to spread those lies. A lot of people feel like they‘ve been had, right?
Well, the fact is, when you have an advocate out there and you have an orator out there, that‘s his strength. And that‘s been taken away. And now, he‘s put his colleagues in a position of either defending him or rendering judgment to the public, to the media because this is the way the media culture works, whether he should resign or not.
So, now, we‘re choosing up sides. Now, how long is this going to go on?
Those who advocate against the issues that I was talking about—you know what they‘re going to do? They‘re going to use this and they‘re going to just beat back all of the progressive ideas that are being pushed out there by Democrats across the country. And it‘s going to really not keep the focus where it needs to be.
Republicans who advocate for oil companies, insurance companies, pharmaceuticals, outsourcing, gutting Social Security and the social net that‘s out there, like Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment and jobs programs, all while pushing through tax cuts for the wealthiest among us in this society, will always keep the Anthony Weiner story out there as a big distraction.
Now, do we need that for 2012?
Now, I want to be clear. I have called for Anthony Weiner‘s resignation because I believe, ultimately, it hurts the cause of the progressive agenda which I firmly believe will help the middle class and the poor in this country, and eventually help all Americans. Anthony Weiner, I think, has now become a liability to that cause and only he can put an end to it. I believe I said that on Monday night. Am I repeating myself?
Congressman, there is only one person who can put an end to all of this. And it‘s agonizing to watch you go through this. It‘s agonizing to see this information drip, drip, drip. And you become just a tool for the right wing who wants to destroy all of the people who are advocating for the very policies that you fought so hard for.
Please resign. Please. Please do it. It‘s bigger than you.
And the fact that your wife is pregnant is awesome. It is—it is awesome to be a father. It‘s awesome to go through that experience. And now, you‘re going to have to manage that personally.
And I don‘t want to get into the personal end of it, but how can we not think about what you are going through and what your wife is going through? And politically—politically is where we want to keep the focus. Because Anthony Weiner has been one of those guys out there that you could always count on standing up on the floor and really going after it—and that‘s been tarnished now.
And now, the Democrats are being put in a pretty tough spot having to choose sides and render judgment on whether—well, I think he should stay. Well, I think he should go. Well, I‘m not really sure. Well, that‘s for someone else to decide.
No, it‘s not. It‘s now for the party to decide what they are going to put up with as they are trying to move the agenda forward. It‘s a tough one. There‘s no doubt. And there will be some more news tomorrow.
Get your cell phones out, I want to know what you think. Tonight‘s question: does the Anthony Weiner episode make it harder for Democrats to get their agenda passed? Text A for yes, text B for no to 622639. And, of course, you can always go to our blog at Ed.MSNBC.com. We‘ll bring you the results later on in the show.
For more, let‘s go to our panel tonight. We‘re joined by Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor of political science at Tulane University and a columnist for “The Nation” magazine; and Mike Papantonio, host of the “Ring of Fire” radio show.
Great to have both of you with us tonight.
Melissa, you first.
The picture is out. His wife is pregnant. What does this change, if anything in your opinion?
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I mean, technically, it shouldn‘t change anything. Look, I really dislike the kind of morality police, particularly when they are policing things that are consensual.
But the fact is that whether or not it should change anything, whether or not it makes it the any more unethical, any more immoral—which I don‘t think it does, whether the wife is pregnant or not pregnant, whether it was a clothed, you know, member or whether it was a naked member that he was sending.
But I think what it does do is it ups our disgust factor in a way that makes it increasingly difficult to imagine how his public self can be mended and can be mended in sufficient time to make him a useful advocate for progressive issues going into the 2012 election cycle.
SCHULTZ: Mike, your thoughts on this. The picture is out. There‘s a pregnant wife. What does it change, if anything?
MIKE PAPANTONIO, CO-HOST, “RING OF FIRE”: Ed, I can tell you this—after defending Weiner on your show on Monday night, I went home and had my wife raise hell with me most of the night. And, unfortunately, that‘s the sentiment I see developing across this country. It‘s always been my inclination.
And most progressives do want to think—they want to take the side of the underdog. In the last two days, it‘s very difficult to do that.
After reading the sophomoric texting that you saw come out of Anthony Weiner, the thing you can conclude is—you almost have to say he‘s suffering from some kind of delayed, arrested adolescent development. It‘s like—it‘s like reading a dialogue that you might expect between Napoleon Dynamite and Eddie Haskell, the first day they discover sex. It‘s very odd.
SCHULTZ: So, have you changed your mind, Mike? Have you changed your mind on this issue?
PAPANTONIO: Ed, it‘s impossible not to. And you know, you did have it right Monday.
But I have to tell you this—you want to believe, you want to believe a guy like this because he has such a great history of always doing and saying the right thing for people. And it‘s very difficult to get past what‘s happened here.
But I look at it a different way. I see this as—you know, on Monday, the story was about child-like antics. Now, it‘s changed to where you have this man-child calling this porno queen, telling her that he wants her to spin her story in a way that looks favorable to him. It‘s a brand new story, Ed.
In this emerging story, you add to that the pregnant wife. It‘s very difficult for people to defend. And I‘m a guy that is always there defending that underdog.
SCHULTZ: Now, we know what the right wing does. And we know what the right wing is all about. And when Andrew Breitbart came out and said he had an X-rated picture, I said, game over. There‘s no way that they are not going to have that get out some way.
And this is going to be very, very hurtful and very damaging. It‘s going to change the dynamic. And it‘s going to change a lot of things.
And now, you have got Democrats who are on record saying that they think that he should leave the Congress.
And so, Melissa, what about that? What about elected Democrats stepping out saying it‘s time for him to make a move? Does that change anything?
HARRIS-PERRY: Now that changes everything. And let‘s be really clear. The world is not fair. I live in Louisiana. I‘m a constituent of David Vitter, right?
I understand that this is not—this is not necessarily a situation of fairness. It‘s not, you know, putting one bad thing next to another and determining which one is most awful or most in violation of congressional ethics. That is not what is going on here.
This is about politics. And so, just like in the 2008 election cycle, you know, Sarah Palin and her family were able to survive the fact that she had a pregnant out of wedlock daughter.
HARRIS-PERRY: When we know the Obamas would never have been able to survive that fact. This is the reality. You know, Breitbart knows it.
HARRIS-PERRY: And the thing is, he knew it when he did it. He should have known better.
SCHULTZ: And now his colleagues know it. His colleagues know it.
HARRIS-PERRY: That‘s right.
SCHULTZ: Who wants to sponsor a bill with him? Who wants to go to a fundraiser with him?
HARRIS-PERRY: No one.
SCHULTZ: Who is going to stump for him?
SCHULTZ: He becomes politically toxic.
Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer, he said he wants Weiner to step down. He said that earlier tonight on this network.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O‘DONNELL, “THE LAST WORD” HOST: As a member of the Democratic Party, if you think your Democratic colleague Anthony Weiner should resign.
REP. EARL BLUMENAUER (D), OREGON: I don‘t see how you serve effectively after this amazingly egregious behavior, lying to the public. I think your credibility is shot. And I think Anthony would be better served moving on to something else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Mike, isn‘t that it? Effectively served to work with other colleagues, to be respective, to be considered a voice of reason—one that‘s not troubled terribly? What about that?
PAPANTONIO: Well, Weiner needs to do right now, Ed, and you said it in the beginning of the show—he doesn‘t need to be worrying about his political career. It‘s toast.
He needs to focus on helping his wife get through this very difficult thing. She—you know, he‘s the one that put her into this mess. He needs—he needs to think about himself in the character flaws that these fundamentals he needs to get under control in his life so he can be a good father for that child when that child is born.
If I were a political adviser, if I were his legal adviser or just a close friend, those are the things I‘d be talking to Anthony Weiner about. Political career, don‘t worry about that right now. It really is toast.
SCHULTZ: Mike, your opinion of Andrew Breitbart?
PAPANTONIO: Well, Breitbart, look—that‘s the worst thing about this story. Here‘s a guy who has had no credibility. We‘ve seen him in the past phony up stories, phony up videos. He‘s the kind of guy you expect to talk about—
SCHULTZ: He fell into this one. He fell into this one.
PAPANTONIO: He fell into it. Yes, every now and then, every squirrel gets a nut. But I‘ve got to tell you something. It doesn‘t change the way most progressives should look at him.
HARRIS-PERRY: That‘s right.
PAPANTONIO: It‘s like the “National Enquirer” on the Johnny Edwards story. They still are the people who talk about UFOs and monkey people most of the time. That is Andy—that is Breitbart.
SCHULTZ: And finally, Melissa Harris-Perry, let me ask you—where in do the Democrats go from here? How do they distance themselves from this?
HARRIS-PERRY: Yes. Look, let me just add to that—when targeted by Andrew Breitbart, you want to be Shirley Sherrod, not Anthony Weiner. You want to be clear where you are standing.
And the fact is what Democrats have to do from here on out is recognize that the world is not fair, that the scrutiny is serious. Maybe it‘s time for a little, you know, Twitter conversation that Nancy Pelosi could bring together, you know, basic rules of how to behave.
You know, discuss the fact that going into 2012, this is not going to be just about policy. This is not going to be just about issues. It‘s also going to be ugly mud-slinging, down in the dirt politics. And so, we‘re going to have to be ready to do that kind work, too.
SCHULTZ: Well, his wife is pregnant. They‘re going to have a baby.
He needs a job.
He needs money coming in. He needs health care. He needs benefits. He might be thinking about that. And that might be one of the reasons why he‘s doing everything he possibly can to hang on.
HARRIS-PERRY: Look, every American in the country is in that position. Everybody is holding on to tough jobs.
HARRIS-PERRY: And that‘s why people at this point are coming into work early and they are saving even more money. I mean, if you know that you are in a precarious position, you don‘t tweet your erect penis, you know, openly. Like this is not the behavior of someone who acts like they are trying to protect and care for the very precarious position they find themselves in.
SCHULTZ: Melissa Harris-Perry, you couldn‘t have said it any better.
I appreciate your comments tonight—along with you, Mike Papantonio.
Thanks so much for joining us.
Remember to answer tonight‘s question there at the bottom of the screen. I want to know what you think.
Now, let‘s talk about Republican hypocrisy on sex scandals, OK? When it‘s one of their own, they don‘t call for resignation, do they?
And violent right wing hate groups are no longer being closely monitored by the United States government. The reason will shock and outrage you.
Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: The right wing hack Andrew Breitbart—I guess you could say got lucky with the Anthony Weiner story. But his elevation into the world of journalism lasts about one day. Just yesterday morning, Breitbart was asked if he planned to release the X-rated photo he said he had of Anthony Weiner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BREITBART: I can‘t foresee a circumstance in which I would release that. I don‘t think I want to put his family through that type of thing. But I certainly have 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: And this morning on “The Opie and Anthony” radio show, Breitbart made the same claim.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BREITBART: By the way, I‘m not releasing it. I‘m not releasing it. I can‘t think of any other publication that wouldn‘t. I could probably get a gazillion hits off my page. I‘m not doing that to him and his family. That‘s my stated position.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: So, the convenient avenue. Breitbart passed around the X-rated photo. And don‘t you know, the photo was later tweeted by Opie and Anthony. And they are, of course, claiming one of their viewers did from the stream.
Breitbart is crying foul saying that Opie and Anthony—well, they violated his trust. Sure, Breitbart, you just let Opie and Anthony do your dirty work.
Next, Republican hypocrisy on sex scandals.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Thanks for watching tonight.
Now, this is going to infuriate some folks, I know. I don‘t often agree with Republicans, but I do think you know where I stand on Anthony Weiner and what his future should be. So, does Republican Congressman Eric Cantor. So does RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.
But that‘s where our agreement ends, because those Republicans are willing to give their own people a pass on scandals like this. Here is the RNC chairman when Martin Bashir challenged him on the issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: The man is a creep. And he‘s a member of the United States Congress. And he‘s admitted to flat out lying, not only to the American people multiple times but to multiple reporters and even coming back to hallways after he knew --
MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: Mr. Priebus, can I ask you is John Ensign a creep as well?
PRIEBUS: Well, you know, listen, I mean, this is about here and now.
BASHIR: No, sorry, can you just answer that because you --
PRIEBUS: I mean, John Ensign resigned. I mean, I‘m not going to get into all the details --
BASHIR: Was he a creep prior to his resignation?
PRIEBUS: I have no idea about whether or not he was a creep, but the man resigned and he did the honorable thing. And the reality is that I think Anthony Weiner should do the same.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: And when Priebus was asked about Senator David Vitter‘s sex scandal on FOX News last night, he said he wasn‘t interested in relitigating it.
Then there is House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. When the sex scandal was Governor Mark Sanford, Cantor said it should be left up to the people of South Carolina, and he did not call for his resignation.
When the sex scandal was Senator John Ensign, the same thing. No call for resignation.
But when it‘s Anthony Weiner—gosh, it‘s amazing how things turn, isn‘t it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: I think it is up to Congressman Weiner and his constituents to make that decision. I don‘t condone his activity. I think he should resign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Let‘s bring in the managing director of Rawstory.com, Mike Rogers. Mike is the reporter who broke the Larry Craig story, the senator, who eventually left the Senate.
Mike, good have you with us tonight. You‘ve been down this road of hypocrisy. You‘ve covered it extensively. Basically, when Republicans do it it‘s really no problem. Isn‘t that the way it works?
MIKE ROGERS, RAWSTORY.COM: You know, the Republicans are great at, as you and I both know about making it about people. When what it‘s really about is principle. And they have no principles.
And you just heard Priebus say exactly—I don‘t want to relive that.
I don‘t want to go down that road.
Well, of course, you don‘t know because it shows just how hypocritical you are.
Anthony Weiner has not built a career on espousing, quote/unquote, “family values.” Anthony Weiner has not done anything illegal like David Vitter, paying prostitutes. So, I think that we know that they want to try to deflect.
And, of course, they try to deflect from the real issues of the day the longer they keep this up.
SCHULTZ: Yes. Now, there were plenty of Republicans who are willing to wait and see f Senator David Vitter and Senator John Ensign would stick it out and run for re-election. But if the ability to get re-elected is the standard, then they‘re certainly not applying that to the Democrats, are they?
ROGERS: Well, they know that Anthony Weiner is really safes in district. They‘ve been doing surveying. More people say that they would vote for him again.
So, it is something that‘s between David—Weiner and his constituents—and, of course, Anthony Weiner and his wife. And to see what the Republicans do is they don‘t want to talk about the actually documented illegal activities of their members, whether it‘s being arrested in an airport bathroom like Larry Craig or paying for sexual services like a David Vitter. They would rather focus on someone like an Anthony Weiner because they want to do it for their political means, not because they have principles.
SCHULTZ: Now, politically in all of this, Mike, now the situation becomes polarizing for the Democrats. And it‘s put a lot of elected officials in an untenable position. They end up choosing up sides.
How do you think this is going to play out politically? And, of course, the Republicans are going to be quick to pounce on whichever is advantageous to them.
ROGERS: Of course. You know, the Republicans will sit there no matter what happens and they‘ll make it about Democrats.
And I think that Anthony Weiner certainly has his challenges in front of him. I‘m not there to know his direct day-to-day relationship with his constituents. I can call the Republicans out and say, if they are waiting to elect a Republican in that district, I am going to pretty much guarantee you that there‘s absolutely no way that will happen on a political front. So, they are really using this simply for political purposes.
SCHULTZ: Is this the most hypocritical thing you‘ve ever seen in covering this? How does this rate with some of the other scandals you‘ve dealt with and covered?
ROGERS: Well, you know, this one is—there‘s nothing illegal that‘s been alleged at al by Anthony Weiner. So, I think in terms of the ones I‘ve seen and we‘ve seen in the past, it‘s really the Republican ones that again go to break the law. They feel that they are above the law.
You heard Priebus willing to revisit the important issues of their folks that there are, that they support for re-election. They march as one group. When Larry Craig said he was going to resign and then he decided to come back, everybody was mum.
So, you have a man who was charges with a crime and they defended him when somebody had something go on—again, probably not the smartest move, and I encourage every one of these politicians to learn a little bit about social networking before they use it.
But it‘s really not something that the Republican Party has any right whatsoever. I mean, in terms of being a moral compass for the country, the GOP has to be way behind the Democratic Party on this. And we know that.
SCHULTZ: Mike Rogers, Rawstory.com—great to have you with us.
Thanks so much.
ROGERS: Always, Ed. Thank you.
SCHULTZ: With six state senators on the chopping blocks, Republicans in Wisconsin—well, they are trying a different tactic. Recruit Republicans to run as Democrats and mess the whole thing up. You won‘t want to miss my conversation with John Nichols about this one.
And wait until you hear the latest oil industry spin on why gas prices are so high. They say it‘s an alternative energy conspiracy? Yes, right.
SCHULTZ: Now if you happened to be watching “Face the Nation” this past Sunday, you may be surprised to hear Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour explain why gas prices are so high in America.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. HALEY BARBOUR ®, MISSISSIPPI: This administration‘s policy has clearly been to drive up the cost of energy so Americans would use less of it. That‘s environmental policy. That‘s not energy policy. But that‘s their policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: And that‘s a lie. It‘s absolute total hogwash, nonsense. Listen up, right wing talkers. Oil production in the United States of America has gone up 11 percent since President Obama has taken office. So the president is somehow driving up gas prices while oil production increases at the same time?
Haley Barbour used to earn millions as a corporate lobbyist for the energy industry. So he‘s familiar with all the tactics when it comes to lying on their behalf.
And a new campaign by the Americans for Prosperity Foundation is pushing the exact same line. They are launching gas price rallies across the country and Internet videos like this one. Beware.
(BEGNI VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you want to see gas prices fall sharply and rapidly, let the Middle East and the other places we import oil know that we‘re serious about exploring in America, and about drilling here on our soil. That will have an immediate impact on prices.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Well, that add is brought to you by Americans for Prosperity. And Americans for Prosperity is brought to you by the oil industry. AFP is funded by the billionaire Koch Brothers, who have a vested interest in making you believe President Obama personally driving up gas prices.
As Think Progress reported, Koch Industry is one of the world‘s top five oil speculators. And even the CEO of Exxonmobil is on record saying the oil speculation has driven current prices up by as much as 50 percent.
Remember that the next time a sitting governor sits on a national show and says that high gas prices are a conspiracy created by the president of the United States. It‘s a lie. It‘s hogwash.
The right wing freaked out when the government said radical right extremist groups pose a threat to our nation. Now the government has pulled back on its attempt to monitor these groups. You good with that?
And the congressman who skipped the State of the Union so he could sit in his office and heckle the president on Twitter, well, he lands in the zone. He says government workers should get a real job. Stay with us.
SCHULTZ: All right. Let‘s go to Wisconsin where Republicans, including Governor Walker, have never played by the rules. So why should they start now? With recall elections threatening six Republican state senators, the GOP is on the offensive.
They are doing everything they can to make sure that these guys remain in power like running fake Democrats, believe it or not. The “Milwaukee Journal Sentinel” confirms that local GOP officials are collecting signatures to run spoiler Democrats in the race.
Now try to follow this one. First, the Republicans recruit one of their own to run as a Democrat. Who wants to do that? Who is going to help us out? If they gather enough signatures to get that so-called Democrat on the ballot, the fake Democrat would challenge the real Democrat in a primary.
And the Democratic primary would push the general election back on the calendar. And, obviously, would give the Republicans a much better fighting chance for them to organize and work against the recall. It would also force Democrats to spend a heck of a lot more money on the primary and deplete the resources, instead of focusing on a general election.
So one of the guys running as a fake Democrat, this dude is 82 years old. His name is Otto Junkerman. He‘s a former Republican state representative. The “Green Bay Gazette” asked Mr. Junkerman if he was a spoiler candidate. He replied, quote, “I don‘t know how I could avoid being considered that.”
Well, you know what? The guy might get elected. At least he‘s honest. Time to call in Washington correspondent for “the Nation,” John Nichols. John, good to have you with us tonight.
Can Republicans get away with this? I mean, I have been in Wisconsin numerous times. They are just really politically savvy people who know what is going on, the folks in that state. Would something like this work?
JOHN NICHOLS, “THE NATION”: Well, this is going to fail, Ed. It will be unsuccessful initiative. But that‘s unsuccessful at the ballot box. It may have success—and they are hoping to have success by forcing Democrats to spend more money, by confusing the situation, and their real goal—their real goal here is to delay the election as far as they can.
And there‘s a reason for this, Ed. They are about to pass a state budget that is exceptionally unpopular. The people of Wisconsin don‘t want their school funding cut. They don‘t want their local services cut. They don‘t want these attacks on unions.
And yet this budget is going to be passed by the Republican senators. What they really want to do is delay, delay, delay, confuse, confuse, confuse, so that when the election finally does come, the recall election finally does come, there‘s enough space that people may have forgotten.
SCHULTZ: What‘s the recourse for the Democrats in this?
NICHOLS: Look, it‘s—there is no real recourse because Wisconsin has very easy ballot access. It‘s not hard to petition on and get into that primary. What the Democrats are going to have to do is communicate with their voters, make it absolutely clear what‘s going on.
And then I think they have one other option that‘s an important one. That is to appeal to the inherent sense of fairness among Wisconsin voters, not just Democrats but independents and even Republicans. This is wrong, Ed.
SCHULTZ: Of course, there is news today. A state board voted to certify recall elections for three Democratic state senators. What can you tell us about this. Six on the table for the Republicans. Now it‘s official, these three are being challenged on the Democratic side. What about that?
NICHOLS: Well, you‘re going to have a—what is effectively a statewide referendum on the policies of Scott Walker and his Republican allies. And people are going to have very clear choices here, Ed. And that‘s the important thing.
Despite all these efforts by the Republicans to confuse things, despite all the outside money that‘s going to come in on behalf of the Republicans, my sense is that the issues are so clear. The choices are so stark that we‘re going to have a great referendum here and it‘s going to be very exciting. My sense is Wisconsinites will acquit themselves very well.
SCHULTZ: Well, it‘s a four-corner stall, I guess you could say, politically for the Republicans, who are trying to do everything they can to deplete the resources of the Democrats, which can‘t be too big. This, of course, is going to be a call for outside money from organized labor. No question about that.
There‘s another story that‘s brewing there. I want to get your take on Governor Scott Walker. He reportedly has removed a portrait of low-income children from the governor‘s mansion. And he‘s replaced it with a picture of a Bald Eagle. What details do you have on this? Why did he do this?
NICHOLS: Well, as I understand it—and this is something that‘s been reported a good deal—when the Walkers came into the governor‘s mansion, they made it quite clear to the staff that they didn‘t want this picture of these kids from Milwaukee in a prominent place in the mansion.
And so they asked that it be removed and taken over and put in a public space in Milwaukee, so that they could put up other pictures. It‘s caused a real stir in Wisconsin. The artist who did the painting has expressed a lot of concern.
And frankly, a lot of other folks have asked why doesn‘t this governor want to have pictures of low-income kids in the governor‘s mansion? Is it because his budget and his policies are doing so much damage to kids like that?
SCHULTZ: John, wasn‘t the meaning of the picture to remind the governor that these are the folks that he is working for on their behalf, not to forget those that might not have a voice? Was that not the intention of the artist?
NICHOLS: That was absolutely the intention of the artist. Frankly, that‘s why that painting is there. The previous governor, Jim Doyle, actually had a terrific record of showing concern for diverse communities in Wisconsin, especially low-income folks, and thought it was a good idea to have that image there.
SCHULTZ: John, great to have you with us tonight, the Washington correspondent of “the Nation,” here on THE ED SHOW.
Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin haven‘t jumped into the 2012 race. But their advisers are already feuding. And Bachmann thinks that she has a shot at beating President Obama in2012. But her fellow Minnesotans have no intention of sending her to the White House. We‘ll tell you.
SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin have not announced they are running for president but their advisers are already getting down and dirty. Bachmann‘s campaign manager, Ed Rollins from the old school, slammed Palin yesterday for lacking substance.
Today, a top Palin adviser shot back, accusing Rollins of “sticking his foot in his mouth and creating a contrived narrative about the 2012 race.”
Meanwhile, Michele Bachmann was recently asked about another Republican rivalry, the one between herself and her fellow Minnesotan, former Governor Tim Pawlenty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there really room in a campaign for two people from Minnesota?
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN ®, MINNESOTA: Well, sure there is. Of course. Minnesota twins.
This is really a referendum on Barack Obama. So I‘m not comparing myself to any other candidate other than Barack Obama. And I think that I come up very favorably next to him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Oh, think again, Michele. Even people in Minnesota don‘t want Tim Pawlenty or you, Michele Bachmann, to be president. You see, there‘s a new survey out, a poll that shows President Obama leading Pawlenty by eight points among Minnesotans, 51-43. And the president would flat out steamroll Michele Bachmann in a race, if it were held right now, in the state of Minnesota, by more than 20 points. 56 to 35 percent.
For Michele Bachmann to think that she‘d do well against President Obama shows just how clueless she is. But it‘s not crazy enough to get her into Psycho Talk tonight. We‘ve got another dandy coming up.
Congressman Paul Broun of Georgia, well, he gets that honor, next.
SCHULTZ: In Psycho Talk tonight, Congressman Paul Broun of Georgia. He‘s always a dandy. See, he‘s one of these whacko conservatives who refuse to raise the debt ceiling no matter what. And Broun has made it clear that he doesn‘t care about the consequences.
(BEGNI VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL BROUN ®, GEORGIA: The CBO says, well, if we don‘t raise the debt limit, it‘s going to put so many people out of work. I don‘t remember the numbers. I think it‘s 250,000 or something.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
BROUN: Are going to be put out of work. But those are going to be government employees that are put out of work. There are a lot of government employees that need to go find a real job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: He doesn‘t know what the numbers are. So according to Paul Broun, teachers, firefighters, police officers are postal workers, they don‘t have real jobs. And he‘s low balling it by saying only 250,000 people would lose their jobs.
A recent report from the centrist think tank Third Way estimates it would be 640,000 jobs would flat out disappear if Congress doesn‘t raise the debt limit. They did it ten times under Bush.
But Paul Broun has never been real big on the facts. He once said the Centers for Disease Control were going to force people to eat their vegetables. He said the Clean Energy Bill would kill senior citizens. No kidding.
And Broun compared President Obama‘s health care bill to the Civil War, which he calls, quote, “the great war of Yankee aggression.”
Perhaps it‘s time for the voters of Georgia to kick Paul Broun out of his government job and see how he likes it, because for him to tell government employees to go find a real job undoubtedly is heartless Psycho Talk.
Before 9/11, the most destructive act of terrorism on American soil was carried out by right wing extremists. Well, tell you why the government is turning a blind eye on these violent groups operating within the United States. You should be concerned.
SCHULTZ: Back to our top story tonight. Following the leak today of an x-rated photo supposedly of Congressman Anthony Weiner, Andrew Breitbart went on Fox News tonight to explain how the photo was made public. But when he was asked about the news that Anthony Weiner‘s wife Huma is pregnant, Breitbart had this very strange answer.
(BEGNI VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW BREITBART, CONSERVATIVE BLOGGER: This information was selectively put out there by their camp. And I think that it‘s probably a PR attempt to try and inject her into it, because when you hear that—when you hear Huma, you are sympathetic to her. When you are hear of Huma and pregnancy you start to feel a level of sympathy. And so I—my belief is that this is a ploy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHULTZ: Let‘s see. I‘ve got a dart board over here. Where is it going to hit? We‘ll go with that reason. We‘ll go with that answer. The guy is truly an unguided missile. And he is no journalist.
Homeland Security; are we paying attention to real threats on our soil? The government has backed off on investigations. That story next.
SCHULTZ: Finally tonight, a story that causes concern over national security and the government‘s dedication to protecting its citizens here in America. Let‘s go back to April of 2009. A unit within the Department of Homeland Security under Janet Napolitano generated a report about the rise of right wing extremist groups in this country. The report warned about the increasing dangers of violent radicalization prompted by a poor economy and the election of Barack Obama.
Conservatives loudly renounced it as an attack on the general right wing ideologies. Now “the Washington Post” reports that the Department of Homeland Security severely reduced the unit responsibility for studying these domestic terrorist groups.
According to the analysis—analysts responsible for much of the report, Daryl Johnson, a single case worker is now doing the work of six. He says his office was gutted in response to the complaints about the report from conservatives.
Since the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, the Southern Poverty Law Center has tracked 96 major radical right terror incidents inside the United States. Since the report was leaked in April 2009, there have been 24 such incidents.
That‘s what‘s at stake here. And yet the Department of Homeland Security is reducing resources and monitoring these groups because the report hurt some conservatives‘ feelings.
Joining me tonight is Mark Potok, the director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center. Good evening, Mark. Good to have you with us.
Is this action by the Department of Homeland Security putting us in danger? The reduction in the case workers, what does that mean.
MARK POTOK, SOUTHER POVERTY LAW CENTER: What it means in concrete terms is that law enforcement officials, agencies out there in the 50 states, are not getting the intelligence that was very useful to them in helping to understand what was going on out there.
What DHS really did or used to do was to produce intelligence. It wasn‘t so much building actual criminal cases as in intelligence as to what was going on out there on the radical right.
Daryl‘s report was really a very prescient report. It very much fell in line with our own independent findings. And of course, it was immediately confirmed. As it was being pilloried by people like Michelle Malkin, the columnist, by the American Leagues and so on, things were happening that absolutely confirmed it.
Very shortly after the leak of the report, for instance, George Tiller, an abortion provider, was murdered. Not long after that, I‘m sure viewers will remember, a guard was murdered at the Holocaust Museum by a well-known neo-Nazi.
And the list goes on and on. In January of this year, a man tried to murder hundreds of people at a Martin Luther King Day Parade in Spokane, Washington, A well known neo-Nazi, allegedly at least.
SCHULTZ: Daryl Johnson—
POTOK: So it‘s a disaster basically.
SCHULTZ: You spoke with him. How adamant is he about the fact that this lack of resources being focused here is really playing into the increase of some of these events that you are talking about?
POTOK: Well, Daryl is a friend. And I think that Daryl is really deeply concerned. And it is not only him. I know that he‘s received all kinds of messages in the last few days since he went public from other people in law enforcement, talking about how very right he was.
And, you know, the shame of this, as you suggested in your intro, is that Secretary Napolitano essentially seemed to have acted out of mere political cowardice. You know, the fact is that the DHS report of 2009 did not pillory conservatives. It did not suggest that all veterans were potential Timothy McVeighs or people who were concerned about abortion or immigration were terrorists.
And yet it was accused of all of those things. And the reaction of the Department of Homeland Security was after a very brief and kind of weak knee defense of the report, was to absolutely pull back and, moreover, to suggest that Daryl had gone out of normal channels, that this was an unauthorized release of the report, when in fact it had been fully authorized.
The secretary was briefed on the report by Daryl personally before it was released. And then beyond that, as you suggested already, the unit was gutted. It has produced not a single substantial report since the report of 2009. Daryl has left the agency, as have four other senior analysts there.
So essentially, the department is doing nothing because it is afraid of offending conservatives, or at least the leadership of the department.
SCHULTZ: Are there any other reasons why it was dismantled? Or is that the central reason? Is it budgeting? What is it?
POTOK: Well, I can‘t speak—step into the secretary‘s head, of course. But, no. There seems to be no other reason whatsoever. Secretary Napolitano, in fact, gave a kind of craven apology to the American Legion after the Legion criticized the report for supposedly saying that all returning vets are coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq were potential terrorists.
SCHULTZ: Mark Potok, Southern Poverty Law Center, good to have you with us. Thank you.
Tonight in our survey, I asked, does the Anthony Weiner episode make it harder for Democrats to get their agenda passed? Forty three percent of you said yes; 57 percent of you said no.
That‘s THE ED SHOW. I‘m Ed Schultz. See you tomorrow on the radio, Sirius XM, channel 127, Monday through Friday, noon to 3:00. “THE LAST WORD” with Lawrence O‘Donnell starts right now. We‘ll see you tomorrow night.
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