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PoliticsNation, Monday, February 18th, 2013

Read the transcript from the Monday show

February 18, 2013

Guests: Michelle Cottle, Clarence Page, Dana Milbank, Maria Teresa Kumar, Douglas Brinkley

REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Chris. And thanks to you for
tuning in.

Tonight`s lead, just in time for president`s day. The GOP `s home on
derange. Right now, the president is on his way home from a weekend
getaway. But he will return to Washington the way he left it, with
Republicans blocking, opposing and grand standing.

But, now, they`re admitting the truth behind it all. Former speaker Newt
Gingrich let the cat out of the bag when he admitted any immigration bill
put out by the White House will fail. Why is that, Mr. Speaker?


driven in this atmosphere with the level of hostility towards the president
and the way he goes to the hostility. I think it`s very hard to imagine
that his bill is going to pass the House.


SHARPTON: So Republicans will block any plan because it`s an Obama plan.
Because they personally don`t like the president. Senator Marco "Water
Bottle" Rubio even called a league draft to the White House plan quote
"dead on arrival."

Dead on arrival? The plan includes elements he`s in favor of. The
difference? President Obama`s name. Then there`s Senator McCain. Fresh
off admitting Republicans put personal grudges ahead of National Security.
He was asked about his delusional conspiracy theories on Libya.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: He was having a massive cover up on the
part of --.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: But a massive cover up of what? I mean, Susan
Rice said there was a lot of confusion. I`m asking do you care --

MCCAIN: I`m asking you,. Do you care -- I`m asking you, do you care
whether four Americans died? Do you have the reasons for that? And
shouldn`t people be held accountable for the fact the four --.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: You said there was a cover up. A cover up of

MCCAIN: Of the information of concerning the deaths of four brave


SHARPTON: Senator McCain has no clue what cover up he`s even talking
about. And just listen to his buddy, Lindsey Graham solution to the debt.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If you want to look at ways to
find $1.2 trillion over the next decade, let`s look at Obama care.


SHARPTON: Oh, yes, the answer to it all. The answer to all life problems.
Repeal health care. Like speaker Gingrich said. This is all personal.
The president has known it for years.


idea I`ve proposed. Every policy I`ve proposed. Even ideas they have
traditionally agree with. No, no, I`m not exaggerating. I mean, we have
had situations where they would sponsor bills, I`d say OK, they said oh, if
you`re OK with it, we must be against it.


OBAMA: It`s true.


SHARPTON: It is true. And now members of their own party are letting
everyone know what it`s all about. It`s personal and it is despicable.

Joining me now is former governor Ed Rendell and Michelle Cottle.

Thanks to both of you for being on the show tonight.



SHARPTON: Governor Rendell, did Mr. Gingrich, in effect, spill the beans?

RENDELL: Well, yes and no. Because you remember, Reverend, I was on your
show on Thursday or Friday and McCain had said basically the same thing.
He said an Obama immigration bill would fail. Not even concerning himself
with what the details of the bill were. He just said that an Obama
immigration bill will fail.


RENDELL: And really, this has been going on, if you think about it,
Reverend Sharpton, it has been going on since August of 2011. When the
president came out with his jobs bill, in his jobs bill it was estimated by
the CBO, would have created 1.1 million new jobs. And yet, and every
element of it had been approved by Republicans before, in separate bills.
And, yet, every element of it, virtually, every element of it, was voted
down by the same Republican who is had been in favor of it before. And
they haven`t stopped.

But let me tell you, and I said this last week and I think you agree. They
are doing this at their own peril. It used to be when there was gridlock
in Washington, people would say, FOX on both their houses. But now, I
think it`s so clear that they won`t agree with anything just because the
president proposed it, that they are destroying themselves.

SHARPTON: Michelle, when you look at that Republicans used to support a
lot of things before President Obama did. They backed health insurance
mandates. They backed the dream act. They backed in infrastructure
spending. They had no problem with deficit spending under President Bush.
They also backed financial disclosure and cap and trade. All of that
reversed when President Obama opposed any and all of these.

COTTLE: Look, this is an extension with what we saw with Mitch McConnell.
The senate leader will put the Republican saying that they were going to be
obstructionist and hold Obama to be a one-term president. That was their
major goal.

Now, just because they failed at that doesn`t mean they can stop all of
that programming of four years. And it complicates things because a lot of
guys who got swept in to office in 2010 on an anti-Obama movement, now, it
is not just whether or not they like the president. They were voted in by
people who voted against the president. And so, they have constituents who
hate the president in many cases as much as they do and they can`t back

SHARPTON: Now governor, talking about they failed in the last election,
over the weekend, Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson, tagged Democrats to
socialists. In his speech, he said quote "Election Day was a body blow to
Americans. A body blow to freedom." He went on to say we are against a
strategy that`s tan taking place by liberals, progressives, Democrats,
whatever they call themselves nowadays, socialists, Marxist. I mean, this
isn`t Allen West. This is the senior senator from Wisconsin, governor.

RENDELL: Reverend, and do you think that`s doing the Republican Party one
wit of good? It`s going to make them a smaller party with a narrower and
smaller base and that base might be inflamed but they are not going to win
very many of action.

And Michelle is right, in most districts, the point she made about people
voted against the president in 2010 were the ones who elected these
Republicans. But remember, they lost congressional seats in Detroit level,
actually, even though they redistricted to try to protect their members,
and there are plenty of seats like the four suburban Philadelphia seats,
congressional seats held by Republicans that don`t want to hear this.
We`re against it because the president is for it, that don`t think we are a
socialist station. That thank people who talk by that are crazy and they
are in danger of losing control of the House of the Representatives in 2014
if they keep this up.

SHARPTON: You know, Michelle though, it`s just outrageous. You have
Congressman Paul Broun sending out a fund raising letter. In it, he`s
touting that he`s the first member of Congress to call President Obama
socialist. And the right wing media has fuelled this derangement from the
beginning. Listen to this, Michelle.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barack does not have his hand on the bible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he really president?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s not going to succeed. Socialism has failed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This president has exposed himself as a guy, over and
over and over again, who has a deep-seeded hatred for white people.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: In Obama`s America, the white kids
now get beat up with the black kids cheering yes, right on, right on, right

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amnesty for illegal aliens be a Hitler-like executive

president of the United States, you have to be born in this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not a traditional America anymore. There are 50
percent of the voting public who want stuff. They want things. And who is
going to give them things? President Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Barack Obama is a socialist. He believes in
socialism in redistributing wealth in confiscating hard-earned dollars.


SHARPTON: I mean, Michelle. This is president that every president has
had their critics. But, this is stunning hostility and venom against the

COTTLE: It is stunning. And there was a lot of talk about whether or not
the echo chamber served the conservative movement poorly because they
didn`t understand what the majority of Americans were thinking and they
just kept having views reinforced.

Although, I will say this, people talk about how much Obama, you know, gets
abused. But, I think we forgotten that this happened a lot with Bill
Clinton, too and the conspiracy theories and the hatred and the Clinton
derangement syndrome. It was pretty vicious, you know, right up until they
wanted to use Bill Clinton as the foil for talking about how bad Obama was.
So, this is entirely new.

SHARPTON: But they never asked for Bill Clinton`s birth certificate.

COTTLE: No. But, they accused him of killing people. They accused him of
importing drugs, they accused him of --

SHARPTON: No, no. They work very, very back. But this is unprecedented.

And on top of this, adding insult to injury, governor, the president of FOX
News comes out and accuses the president of being divisive after all of
these things being said and in trying to pull things together. The
president of FOX News actually says, let me quote him correctly.

The president likes to divide people into groups. He is too busy getting
the middle class to hate rich people, blacks to hate whites. He is busy
trying to get everybody to hate each other. When this president has tried
in every way he can to do the opposite of that.

RENDELL: Of course.

I mean, it`s ludicrous. And first of all, it`s incredibly hypocritical for
the president of FOX News to call anybody divisive. That`s the whole game
they`ve been playing since they started as a news channel, number one.

But Michelle used a very good term, the "echo chamber." And they do talk
to each other. That one woman name in the series of excerpts that you just
cited, that one woman said he wants to redistribute wealth, you know, like
that was something bad. Well, the vast majority of Americans want richer
Americans to pay more in taxes. There is absolutely clear about that.
There was no debate. It is why the Republican Party folded on the fiscal

But they talked to each other so much, they begin to believe their own
rhetoric. And it is heading down a very dangerous path, very dangerous

SHARPTON: Governor Ed Rendell and Michelle Cottle, thank you both for your
time tonight.

RENDELL: Thanks, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Coming up, this 18-year-old mother shot and killed near Chicago.
Hours after her sister watched President Obama speak on gun safety. Why we
must change.

Plus, Karl Rove is talking about witches and praising Hillary Clinton?
Maybe it`s time to rethink this rebranding campaign.

And on president`s day we`re asking does President Obama deserve a spot on
Mt. Rushmore? Big president`s day show on tap.

Stay with us.


OBAMA: We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths, that
all of us are created equal, is that star that guides us still just as it
guided our fore bearers to Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall, just as it
guided all of those men and women, sung and unsung who left footprints
along this great mall to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone. To
hear a king proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound for
the freedom of every soul on earth.



SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" conversation on Facebook
yet? We hope you will.

In honor of president`s day, we asked everyone to name their favorite
president other than President Obama. We got a lot of great answers.
President Clinton came in first.

Trudie says her favorite president was President Clinton because he
represented all Americans and he had a surplus when he left office.

JFK was another popular answer.

Linda says it`s because he supported civil rights, space exploration and
the Peace Corps, inspiring hope in young people to serve their country.

Trina picked FDR because he was the first president to truly attend to the
needs of the poor and working class.

Who is your favorite president? Tell us. Please head over to facebook and
search "Politics Nation" and like us to join the conversation that`s going
long after this show ends.



OBAMA: What happened to Hadiya is not unique. It`s not unique to Chicago.
It`s not unique to this country. Too many of our children are being taken
away from us. The overwhelming majority of Americans are asking for some
common sense proposals to make it harder for criminals to get their hands
on a gun.

But these proposals deserve a vote in Congress. They deserve a vote.


OBAMA: They deserve a vote.


SHARPTON: President Obama in Chicago last week saying, again, victims of
gun violence deserve a vote. Somewhere in that crowd behind him was 14-
year-old, a student named Destiny Warren.

But just hours after the president`s speech, her life was changed forever
by a tragic shooting. Her big sister, 18-year-old Janay McFarland was shot
in the head and murdered in North Chicago. Another innocent victim taken
by gun violence.

Janay was the mother of a three-month-old son, Jayden. She was visiting
friends and family when she was shot late Friday night on her way to the
store. She was on track to graduate high school this summer and had
planned to study culinary arts after graduation.

The bullet was reportedly meant for her friend. Janay`s death is the
latest tragedy in a series of senseless murders across this country. In
just the two months since Sandy Hook, more than 1900 American lives have
been taken by gun violence.

We have to end the epidemic of gun violence in this country. We have to do
it for our children. We have to do it for all the parents who are
grieving. But there is hope. This fight is moving in the right direction.
Now is the time for change.

Joining me now is Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune columnist and editorial

Thanks for being here tonight, Clarence.

Reverend. Good to be here.

RENDELL: Janay McFarland, another heartbreaking case of senseless gun
violence. It is tough to see this. How might it change the debate in
Washington, Clarence?

PAGE: Well, it adds one more tragedy on top of the other ones we`ve had to
deal with here recently. The irony here, of course, was, as you mentioned,
her sister had just participated in the same ceremony which President Obama
was speaking at the Hype Park Academy in the south side of Chicago. And
after leaving that event, she goes and hears that her sister has been shot
up in Chicago. And I don`t know other suburb. This is ironically similar
to the death that they were memorializing here, the killing of a 15-year-
old girl in the south side who had been a baton twirler at the president`s

RENDELL: Yes, Hadiya Pendleton.

PAGE: Hadiya Pendleton, exactly. And so, it`s one more tragedy and it
adds more fuel to the current pervert to get some tighter gun control
legislation. So we will see what the -- how this all transpires.

SHARPTON: Well, we heard over the weekend, Senator John McCain did say he
expects broad support on universal background checks. Listen.


MCCAIN: Senator Coburn and senator Mansion and some others who are working
on a package that I think most of us will be able to support. I applaud
their efforts. And obviously, we want to do everything we can to prevent
guns from falling into the hands of people that are mentally unbalanced or


SHARPTON: Well, that`s a step in the right direction, Clarence. I don`t
know that we can get them to take the rest of the walk with magazines with
100 rounds and automatic weapons. But it seems, as though, he`s at least
predicting background checks maybe something that they will support. Is
that a good forecast or am I being too optimistic?

PAGE: Well, I think that is a good forecast. There seems to be a building
consensus that first of all, something needs to be done. Secondly,
background checks is a politically safe issue, even for Republicans, all of
whom have been voting with the NRA, virtually, on the gun control issue
because not only the majority but Americans in general. But also, a
majority of NRA members and gun owners who have been polled say that they
support background checks or don`t mind them.

And you have even the NRA itself back in the `90s supported background
checks. Wayne Lapierre spoke for very passionately about the need for and
with no exception et cetera. Now, he has back pedaled on that saying, now,
they don`t like background check. But now, there is -- that`s a
politically safe issue. The over-sized magazines should be a safe issue.
But there is still resistance on that. The assault weapons ban getting
back or restored. There is resistance on that. So I would say it`s a safe
prediction to say there is a building movement for the background check.
But this is a good move.

SHARPTON: But, yet, the leadership of the NRA is still opposed to it. In
fact, the president of the NRA, David Key, in an interview, says new gun
legislation is unlikely to pass because quote "the difference between today
and 15 years ago is that today, guns are cool.

I mean, where has he been? I have no idea.

PAGE: Yes, I`m not sure what exactly he meant by that. It`s not like
there has been some news snazzy designed to look. I think that`s really
code language from the political fact, since 2000 when Al Gore lost West
Virginia after the NRA put about $25 million in ads in that state.

Democrats have been a plague. They even go near the issue. Democrats are
not afraid of it anymore. Even Joe Mansion from West Virginia wants to see
something done. And we are seeing now, that I think there are rays as kin
of standing path n this issue, the background checks because they see that
if there`s anything they`re going to have to give up, it`s going to be

SHARPTON: Well, it is going that way because when you see signs of
progress all over the country, I`m looking at in Colorado today, the house
passed four gun control bills. A bill requiring gun purchases to pay the
cost of their own background checks cleared the Colorado house. The same
day the chamber passed bills requiring background checks on private firearm
sales and limiting gun magazines to 15 pounds. And this is in Colorado
which is not a state that has not been pro-gun.

PAGE: Right.

SHARPTON: We also see the mayor that gives illegal guns have released a
new ad featuring Hadiya Pendleton`s mother talking about the need for gun
legislation. You mentioned Hadiya. Watch her mother on this ad.


CLEO COWLEY, HADIYA PENDLETON`S MOTHER: A piece of my heart is gone.
Congress is debating how to fix our gun laws. They can start with
background checks for all gun sales. Sale Congress to support commonsense
reforms. So no more innocent children are killed and no parent has to go
through this heartbreak.


SHARPTON: So the fight is on and I think the results are for our children
around the country. I think we have a shot at moving forward, Clarence.

PAGE: I think so. We want the kids for pressuring on. The thing is the
NRA has a lot of money backing by the firearms and their members are very
passionate about this issue. Until now, we`ve seen people who are pro-gun
control, pro-gun safety and haven`t been as passionate about it. Haven`t
been filling e-mail boxes and keeping the pressure on.

But now, I think we`re seeing a really bright moment here, if you will, or
some kind of common sense gun reform.

SHARPTON: I do. I see light at the end of the tunnel. I just hope it`s
not the train coming.

PAGE: I hear you.

SHARPTON: Clarence Page, thank you for your time tonight.

PAGE: Thank you.

Coming up, she`s back. She`s back. Sarah Palin, the toast of the party.
Wait until you see where she`s headed.

And from the Appalachian Trail to the campaign trail. Mark Sanford
speaking out and it`s revealing.

And Michelle Obama reveals what inspired her bangs.

Happy president`s day, everyone. Stay with us.


country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.




SHARPTON: Let`s take a walk -- or shall I say a hike down Memory Lane.
Remember Mark Sanford? The former governor of South Carolina? A strong
conservative. A force in the GOP. The guy who was talked about for
president. But let`s be honest.

He`s really best-known for his bizarre disappearing act in the summer of
2009. For six days, the media, his family and his wife were wondering
where he was. Sanford told his staff he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.
But, soon after, he came clean.


FMR. GOV. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: You see, the bottom line is
this. I`ve been unfaithful to my wife. I developed a relationship with a
dear, dear friend from Argentina. It began innocently, as I suspect many
of these things do, in just a casual e-mail back and forth. I would also
apologize to my staff because as much as I do talk about going to
Appalachian Trail that where I ended up.


SHARPTON: But now he`s going from the Appalachian Trail to the campaign
trail. He`s running for Tim Scott`s vacated house seat. Today, he
released his first campaign ad.


SANFORD: More recently, I`ve experienced how none of us go through life
without mistakes. But in their wake, we can learn about grace, a God of
second chances and be the better for it. In that light, I humbly step
forward and ask for your help in changing Washington.


SHARPTON: Well, good luck. And happy trails, Mr. Sanford.


SHARPTON: Big news for the future of science today. The Obama
administration is launching an effort to map the human brain and gain new
insights into how it works. We applaud the President`s initiative. And we
hear at POLITICS NATION are excited to be a part of it. Our own crack team
of scientists have been hard at work mapping the republican brain to better
understand what the heck is going on in there. Our initial findings show
that tax cuts for the rich make up a huge percentage of the GOP mind.

In fact, it`s just about 47 percent. The anti-Obama cortex is a key part
of the republican brain. Those neurons light up whenever the President
talks about anything. It`s amazing. We`ve all saw identified two stimulus
lows in the GOP brain. One side opposes it while the other side takes
credit for it back in their home districts. But our biggest discovery, we
were able to confirm the existence of the GOP`s compromise gland.

We`ve magnified it a thousand times for viewers at home. It`s highly
under-developed in the republican brain. It`s a bit stunted. But it`s

Joining me now to discuss our scientific findings are Dana Milbank and
Maria Teresa Kumar. Thanks for being here.



SHARPTON: Dana, first, let me show you what Karl Rove said on Sunday about
Tea Party Republicans.


KARL ROVE, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: The more people who participate, the
better off we are. The more we examine the quality of these candidates
from top to bottom, the more likely we end up with fewer Christie and
O`Donnell and more Rand Paul.


SHARPTON: Karl Rove wants more Rand Paul. Now, Dana, I`m trying to
understand the republican brain. But I`m stumped. I mean, what is Rove
thinking? He wants more people. More candidates who think universal
health care is slavery. That seat belt laws are nanny state paternalism
who would repeal the Americans with disabilities act. Who says they want
to disarm the food and drug administration and abolish the Department of
Education and the Federal Reserve. More people like him would help the
GOP? Help me understand this brain, Dana?

Do you have a problem with that, Reverend? Well, first of all, I want to
congratulate you on the successful mapping there. I think, however, the
compromise gland is vestigial organ, much like the appendix. So, even
though you`ve identified it, I`m not sure that`s going to help us going
forward here. Now, here`s the situation with Karl Rove. He has gotten
himself crossways with the conservatives in the party by saying he wants to
protect sort of the mainstream candidates.

So, he needs to throw them a bone right now. And he`s trying to say, it`s
OK, I like guys like Rand Paul. I just don`t like that woman, the one who
was a witch in Delaware. The problem here, of course, is this, by saying
Rand Paul is the guy we liked, yes, all of those things you`re talking
about, Rand Paul gave a foreign policy speech just a week ago suggesting
that there wasn`t a single foreign policy action this government is taking
in the last 40 years other than Afghanistan that he would have approved of.
So is that the Republican Party that Karl Rove is looking for? I doubt it.

SHARPTON: Now, Maria Teresa, Newt Gingrich yesterday declared the GOP
doesn`t have a message problem, it has a technology problem. Listen to


ROVE: They are a super bowl team that we ought to respect deeply. And we
are currently a mid-level college team floundering around. And I agree,
you can`t just go out and buy this. This is a fundamental rethinking of
how you relate to the American people.

SHARPTON: Now, let me get this right. Because I`m trying to understand
the republican brain, Maria.

KUMAR: OK, Reverend. I`ll try to help. I don`t know.

SHARPTON: So, giving the message, the one that`s anti-immigrant, anti-
poor, anti-women to more people would have help them in the last election?

KUMAR: I think what the Republican Party wants you to understand is that
technology is fantastic because it helps you disseminate your policies.
But if you don`t have any policies, maybe you don`t have the public knowing
exactly what you`re against and you`re absolutely right. And I think back
to what Karl Rove is doing, I think Karl Rove recognizes that the Tea Party
did something incredibly well. And that was they ran right of center
candidate against incumbents in 2010.

He recognizes that in order to win state like elections. He`s going to
have to do exactly what the Tea Party did. And basically used their
playbook and that`s why they`re calling foul. They don`t like the fact
that Karl Rove is a student of politics and strategy and winning. And now
he`s trying to say, wait a second, we have to get back on the map.

We have to win statewide elections, we have to win the White House, we have
to deal where the country is going. And that is, in Virginia, the majority
who basically believes that there`s a role for government and there`s
actually a role to making sure that you`re actually being truthful when it
comes to running your candidates.

SHARPTON: Now, Dana, when you look at the fact they`re talking about
rebranding the right wing, but then I`m looking at the roster of speakers
for CPAC. Here are some of the speakers they`ve lined up. Rick Santorum,
Allen West, Rand Paul. They`ve also invited NRA`s Wayne Lapierre. And
just today, we learned Sarah Palin is going to speak, as well. Now, is
this the most forward-looking panel they could have devised for a brave new

MILBANK: Yes, there`s a little bit of a contradiction here. Now, Newt
Gingrich said maybe a few weeks ago that Republicans, here`s their problem.
They just need to be the happy party. And now he`s saying it`s just a
technology problem. So, maybe it is a technology problem to make it the
happy party and that needs to be achieved with some sort of a
pharmaceutical intervention there.

But what the line-up at CPAC illustrates is that there is something going
on other than just a messaging issue here. They`re going to try it every
which way to say that it is something other than the substance of the
issue. I`m delighted to see that Sarah Palin has found light after FOX
News and I look forward to covering her speech here in Washington.

SHARPTON: Maria, let me ask you this. The President of course -- but
democratic strategist Bob Shrum, he wrote an article saying that he`s not
quite done with his work yet. He says in the article, Shrum, in effect,
you will have to run all out for a third term in the midterms. He will
have to say the voters, you elected a president who`s on your side? Now
will you elect a Congress on your side so we can move America forward?
Maria, will the president fight to change the Congress as part of his
agenda for the second term?

KUMAR: I mean, the fact that he immediately enlisted OFA now made it a
non-part -- a for-profit organization that basically is trying to mobilize
the 16 million voters that voted for President Obama. The President knows
that in order for him to pass this top piece of legislation that he
believes in, he`s going to need to get a Congress that`s friendly to him.
And that`s a little bit, that`s basically also strike fear in the
Republicans, that`s why you`re seeing Karl Rove saying, wait a second, we
need to go back into New Hampshire and have a much more modernist
Republican Party. Otherwise, we`re going to be tossed in 2014.

SHARPTON: Dana, do you have diagnosis for the GOP brand?

MILBANK: Well, I think you`ve done some extensive research on the brain
tonight, but I would recommend lots of bed rest.

SHARPTON: Thank you, Dr. Dana, thank you Maria Teresa Kumar.

KUMAR: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Thanks for your time.

MILBANK: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Ahead on President`s day, we`re asking who is more deserving of
a spot on Mount Rushmore? President Obama or President Reagan?

And Michelle Obama reveals what inspired her bangs. Stay with us. It`s
POLITICS NATION on MSNBC, President`s day.




She looks good. She always looks good.


SHARPTON: President Obama weighing in on his wife`s bangs. The First Lady
revealed the new do on her 49th birthday and right before the President`s
second inauguration. It seemed like just about everyone had an opinion.
But now we`re hearing want inspired her to make the change.


MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: And I tell people that the bangs -- I`m
going to be 50 next year, OK.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: You look gorgeous.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It`s all the apples.

MICHELLE OBAMA: It`s the apples. But this is my midlife crisis, the
bangs. I couldn`t get a sports car, they won`t let me bungy jump, so,
instead, I kept my bangs here.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: So, you went for the bangs?

MICHELLE OBAMA: I went for the bangs.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: You`re still in charge, you`re the boss of your hair.

MICHELLE OBAMA: I can do this. This is all mine.


SHARPTON: I think the bangs look great. But we`ll be ready if you ever
decide to do that bungy jump.


SHARPTON: Well, it`s President`s day. A day when we`re hit with some of
the tackiest TV ads of the year. But it`s also a day when we think about
what makes a good president. When we think about what we want from our
commander in chief. After all, it`s an elite group. We live with these
presidents on our TV sets in our living rooms, on every day for years.

They`re a strong presence in our lives and they lead to some pretty strong
opinions, too. Should Reagan be on Mount Rushmore? A lot of Republicans
think so. Should Obama be on Rushmore? We`ve talked about that, too. We
know this president has his eye on history. He`s talked about Lincoln as a
role model and he`s drawn lessons on both what to do and whatnot to do from
the presidents of the past.

Joining me now is Doug Brinkley, presidential historian at Rice University,
he`s the author of "Cronkite" about the legendary news anchor. Doug,
you`re a part of a select group of historians who have regular dinners with
President Obama at the White House. How important is history to this
President`s thinking about his job and his agenda?

unbelievably important. I mean, Barack Obama loves presidential history,
he reads all of the relevant books, whether it`s on Eisenhower, FDR, LBJ.
And he likes to converse on all of these presidencies. You said, it`s a
very elite club and he`s part of it. And you learn about the mistakes and
also the advantages that other presidents had.

Now, Lincoln is loved by Barack Obama because no matter how badly he might
have it now with Congress, Lincoln had it worse. I mean the country just
being ripped apart and him having to fight the civil war. So, Lincoln
says, everyday favorite president.

SHARPTON: Now, a survey of historians ranking the greatest presidents,
came back saying number one was Lincoln, two, Washington, three, FDR, four,
Teddy Roosevelt, five, Truman. Now, what do all of these presidents have
in common? And what does that tell us about where President Obama might
ultimately end up?

BRINKLEY: All of them have a huge amount of self confidence. They believe
in their own gain. In the end, there`s a lot of acting that goes on with
president. And you also have to communicate well with the exception of
true man, who wasn`t that good with media, you know, Theodore Roosevelt was
extraordinary dealing with cartoonists and a gargle of journalist that
would follow him. He would dying with novelists and poets. FDR of course
with radio was so amazing.

And Lincoln, writing such eloquent pieces as, you know, the Gettysburg
address, able to communicate emotions of the time to the American people.
Washington was different because he was first, and you know Reverend, we
take it for granted, Washington came in and he didn`t know what foreign
policy he should be doing. Business with Britain? He didn`t even know how
quite to organize government. But that`s why Washington usually follows
Lincoln as number two.

SHARPTON: Now, even Republicans give President Obama credit for being a
great communicator.

BRINKLEY: Yes, and I think you`re seeing that particularly think that last
-- the second inaugural Barack Obama is going to be quite famous when he
invoke Seneca Falls and Selma and Stone Wall, and also on the State of the
Union address. This last one I thought was very well written. Someday,
somebody could do a book on the speeches of Barack Obama whether it`s his
noble speech or his Cairo one, speeches in Newtown, in Aurora, Tucson.
He`s been a very extraordinarily gifted order.

SHARPTON: Now, if you look at a comparison, a tale of two presidents, let
me call it that way, you compare the president and his predecessor.
President Obama is ending two wars. President Bush started two wars.
President Obama got Bin Laden -- Bush lost bin Laden. President Obama
added 472,000 private sector jobs, President Bush lost 653,000 private
jobs. President Obama save Detroit, President Bush just visited at once.
So if you compare him to his predecessor, yes, a lot of people think he is
well on his way to being on a list of great presidents.

BRINKLEY: Well, and a list of great president speech where he broke the
glass ceiling obviously becoming the first African American president. But
a lot of his accomplishments, Obamacare now is in mid-course, if he pulls
that off and it becomes a birth -- like Medicaid or Medicare, it`s going to
be a huge accomplishment. And I think President Obama has not gotten
enough credit for the bailout of General Motors. It came out a lot. But
that was a pivotal moment when he saved the auto-industry and is now
working to return manufacturing to American shores. I think that also
might be a big part of a legacy that will keep him ranked towards the top
of the presidents.

SHARPTON: Now, when we look at his second term agenda, immigration reform,
gun safety, voter reform, minimum wage, climate change. Any on all of
these and clearly, a good portion of these would only further underscore
him being toward the top-ranked presidents in my opinion, certainly as a
progressive president.

BRINKLEY: Well, you know what, Reverend, these presidents have this
revisionism. And everyone is looking at Dwight Eisenhower lately and just
as Ike got us out of the Korean War without a lot of hoopla, you`re seeing
Barack Obama getting us out of Iraq and Afghanistan. That`s going to be
seen as another additional large accomplishment.

SHARPTON: Professor Brinkley, thanks for your time tonight.

BRINKLEY: Thanks. Happy President`s Day.

SHARPTON: Same to you, sir.

Ahead, why every day should be President`s Day, no matter what your
politics. Next.



OBAMA: Now, more than ever, we must do these things together as one
nation, and one people. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment
and we will seize it so long as we seize it together.



SHARPTON: President Obama calling for unity, urging the country to stand
together as one. It`s a theme he has hit throughout his presidency. But
from the day he took office, we`ve seen plotting to destroy his work, we`ve
seen disrespect, obstruction and personal attacks. Today, President`s Day.
It`s the day to honor and respect all of our great country`s presidents.
But every day should be President`s Day.

The president is the leader of the country. And regardless of your
politics or even your vote in the last election we all must respect the
office of the presidency. It`s OK to disagree. But it`s not OK to be
disagreeable. It`s not OK to call the President a socialist. It`s not OK
to point in his face. It`s not OK to question his place of birth. It`s
not OK to claim your number one-on-one goal is to defeat the president.

I disagreed with nearly everything the Bush administration did. I
questioned the reasons we went to war, I criticized his tax cuts for the
rich. I even led marches against his administration. But I met with
President Bush many times including at the White House. I always had a
respect for him as president. And I respected the office of the
presidency. When we met, it was always Mr. President. He was not my
choice and he certainly was not one I supported.

But you can`t disrespect the office holder and then hope to get your
person, the one you believe in, in the office. We must uphold the office,
we must look up to the office and, in order to do that, we must respect the
office holder.

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. Happy President`s Day. "HARDBALL"
starts right now.


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