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The Ed Show for Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

March 21, 2013

Guests: Hillary Mann Leverett, Matthew Duss, Daniel Hernandez, Mark Glaze, Richard Wolffe, Michelle Goldberg, Ryan Grim, Aaron Jackson

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, GUEST HOST: Good evening, Americans. Welcome to
THE ED SHOW. I`m Michael Eric Dyson, in for Ed Schultz.

Tonight, John Boehner backs off his support for background checks.

Saxby Chambliss can`t support gay marriage because he doesn`t plan on
having one.

A Washington-made crisis is hurting somewhere you`ll never believe.

And Westboro Baptist Church gets a new neighbor.

But, first, President Obama calls on young Israelis to embrace peace.

This is THE ED SHOW -- and as Ed would say -- let`s get to work.


DYSON: It was a passionate appeal for peace. After speaking with
Palestinians in the West Bank, the president took his message to Israel,
delivering a major speech earlier calling for a two state solution in the
Middle East.

This was the main event of Mr. Obama`s first trip to Israel as leader
of the free world. The president delivering what the administration called
the centerpiece of the visit. The speech wasn`t given in front of the
Israeli parliament where his predecessor spoke at his first trip. It was
given at the Jerusalem Convention Center before an audience of students.

The president`s message was clear: peace is possible, but in order to
secure peace and security for the Jewish state, compromise is essential.


necessary but there`s a little secret about where they must lead. Two
states for two peoples. Two states for two peoples.


There will be differences how to get there. There will be hard
choices along the way.

For the moment, put aside the plans and the process, I ask you instead
to think about what can be done to build trust between people.


DYSON: Mr. Obama reassured Israelis of America`s commitment but also
delivered some tough love.


OBAMA: I also believe it`s important to be open and honest,
especially with your friends. Politically, given the strong bipartisan
support for Israel in America, the easiest thing for me to do would be to
put this issue aside -- just express unconditional support for whatever
Israel decides to do, that would be the easiest political path.

But I want you to know that I speak to you as a friend who is deeply
concerned and committed to your future. The only way for Israel to endure
and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of
an independent and viable Palestine. That is true.



DYSON: Mr. Obama made his case for brokering peace with the
Palestinians by painting it as a civil rights issue in personal terms.


OBAMA: Put yourself in their shoes. Look at the world through their
eyes. It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of
their own. Spending their entire lives with the presence of a foreign army
that controls the movements not just of those young people, but their
parents and grandparents every single day. Neither occupation nor
expulsion is the answer. Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland,
Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.



DYSON: Mr. Obama also stressed the unbreakable alliance between
Israel and the United States.


OBAMA: But make no mistake, those who adhere to the ideologically of
rejecting Israel`s right to exist, they might as well reject the Earth
beneath them or the sky above because Israel`s not going anywhere.


OBAMA: Today, I want to tell you, particularly the young people, so
that there`s no mistake here, so long as there is a United States of
America, Ah-tem lo lah-vahd.


You are not alone.


DYSON: The speech was reminiscent of remarks the president gave in
Cairo in 2009, something Mr. Obama himself took note of.


OBAMA: Four years ago, I stood in Cairo in front of an audience of
young people. Politically, religiously, they must seem a world away. But
the things they want, they`re not so different from what the young people
here want. They want the ability to make their own decisions and get an
education and to get a good job and to worship God in their own way, to get
married, to raise family.

The same is true of those young Palestinians that I met with this
morning. The same is true for young Palestinians who yearn for a better
life in Gaza. That`s where peace begins. Not just in the plans of leaders
but in the hearts of people.


DYSON: This was Mr. Obama`s chance to appeal to a new generation of
Israelis and to reach out to them in a personal way, something his critics
charge he hasn`t done before. In many ways it was vintage Obama. The
world witnessed the return of the "hope and change" guy from 2008.


OBAMA: And let me say this as a politician. I can promise you this.
Political leaders will never take risks if the people do not push them to
take some risks.

You must create the change that you want to see.


Ordinary people can accomplish compare things.


DYSON: Get your cell phones out. I want to know what you think.

Tonight`s question: Will the Middle East take President Obama`s
message of compromise to heart? Text A for yes, text B for no, to 67622,
or go to our blog at

I`ll bring you the results later in the know.

I`m joined by Hillary Mann Leverett, professor of American foreign
policy at American University and author of "Going to Tehran". She
specialized in Middle East affairs at the State Department during the
Clinton and Bush administrations.

I`m also joined again tonight by Matt Duss, policy analyst for the
Center for American Progress.

It seems like I just spoke to you last night, Brother Matt.

Professor Mann, let me start with you.

Tell us what this speech means. Does this mean the administration is
willing to put forth a serious effort towards brokering peace in the Middle
East and specifically between Israelis and Palestinians? Or was this a
tremendous speech that doesn`t have the substance necessary to carry forth?

that underscores on what Obama`s true strength in his rhetoric. But,
unfortunately, I don`t think it was tremendous in substance. I think,
unfortunately, the key aspects -- what`s really necessary for a two-state
solution, the definition of the 1967 borders, halt to settlements, that was
completely dropped from Obama`s prior substance filled speeches.

And, therefore, this plan or this idea isn`t going anywhere.

DYSON: Why did he drop it? What`s the reason? He didn`t want to
insult the Israelis to their face? Didn`t want to challenge them that
toughly? Why is that?

LEVERETT: I think the whole trip actually was not about going to make
peace in the Middle East. It was about making peace with Congress at home
to pursue a domestic agenda through the 2014 midterm elections, to get work
done here in the United States, a realization that he needs Congress behind
him and that congressman and senators aren`t going to take politically
difficult positions in domestic issues if they feel that he is jeopardizing
their back on Israel.

I think it was very focused on domestic issues and it was -- in order
to go and have a good visit in Israel, have that really good photo-ops and
have a better relationship with Congress.

DYSON: Interesting. We`ll get back to that.

Mr. Duss, the speech received praise from left-leaning Israel lobby in
the United States. Israel`s President Shimon Peres was also a fan. But
how will this be received as a whole? Given what Professor Mann just
indicated, there`s a lot o work to be done, and lot of, you know,
rejiggering of the political map, so to speak, because the geopolitics in
that terrain, as you know, are extremely volatile.

So, what gives?


I mean, I have to disagree with Hillary a little bit. I think the
president did specifically call out settlements as not conducive to peace.
In this speech today, he referenced past statements specifically the May
2011 speech he made at the State Department where he talked about border
and security, thus the famous `67 line speech which he got a lot of
criticism for. I was pleasantly surprised that he didn`t reference that as
basis for negotiations.

But I think the key question were asking was, will the president weigh
in on this in a big way? And I think we got the answer today that was yes.
He weighed in this in a very impressive way. The question coming out of
this, is, OK, what is the policy followed through? And I think that`s
where the questions remain.

I think what the president made clear today is that this issue remains
high on his agenda, his analysis of the Israel-Palestinian conflict remains
that it is something that negatively impacts U.S. national security and
U.S.`s ability to achieve its goals. So, I think at this point, having
done what he needs to do, both to reassure the Israelis of his own support
for their security and reassure them that he`s committed to resolving this
issue, we might see a handoff to the Secretary of State Kerry who will be
remaining in the region.

DYSON: Let me let you respond, Professor Mann Leverett, but I also
want to throw in here -- Secretary of State John Kerry was critical at this
administration`s lack of efforts at peace-making. Now, that he`s secretary
of state does this auger well of new posture internationally for some more
diplomacy aimed toward creating peace especially in this volatile region.

LEVERETT: It could, but I actually think that would just be
fortuitous. Secretary Kerry was not President Obama`s first choice. I
don`t think that he chose him because of his support for prior peace
efforts. So, I don`t think that`s the strategy here. I think the strategy
is very focused on 2014, to get a domestic agenda done.

And if Secretary Kerry can make moves and nice noises in the region in
the meantime, that`s fine.

DYSON: So, you`re kind of cynical. You think this is all smoke and
mirrors. You don`t think this had anything substantive about the --

LEVERETT: Yes, I think, too, in both sides. I was in it in the first
Clinton administration when there was a lot of fanfare back in 1993, the
dialogue and direct negotiations would take off. And they didn`t, and
until after Clinton, until after the midterm -- after he was re-elected in
the mid-terms in 1998, didn`t take off until then.

Same thing in the George W. Bush administration when I was also a
professional Middle East advisor there, I just think it`s not going to

There was no discussion here about halting settlements, which is
critical. You can say settlements make me uncomfortable, they`re not
conducive. Halting settlements is the key.

You give a vague reference to a prior speech it`s not talking about
`67 borders.

Those are things needed for a state. We get confused between our hope
for peace and reality for a state. What Palestinians want and need, what
Arabs and Muslims broadly want and need is a state for the Palestinians.
Whether peace comes, too, you know, that`s secondary. They want and need a

The requirements for a state are: `67 borders and halt to settlement

DYSON: All right.

LEVERETT: The other piece here that Obama said clearly, which I think
should give us some caution, is the Palestinians should drop their push for
-- to push this to the United Nations and do it through this direct
dialogue and direct negotiations and dialogue.

DYSON: Not very likely, yes.

LEVERETT: That`s never happened. I mean, we`ve had 20 years of
direct dialogue. It`s never happened. The key for the U.N. that`s so
critical for Palestinians is they could take their state hood to the
International Criminal Court and get a determination on their human rights
and occupation. President Obama said no.

DYSON: Well, given that fact, Mr. Duss, given what Professor Mann
Leverett has indicated here, do you think there`s any possibility Obama
makes any progress, because if all the conditions exist for successful
negotiations for peace, does it ever today at least bolster left-leaning
Israelis who are there and in America, sympathizers with Israel and also
want to see a broader push for Palestinian rights to be acknowledged?

DUSS: I think what we saw today was, yes, this remains a key item on
the president`s foreign policy agenda. There were real questions whether
he would weigh in on this. As I said, the answer to that is yes. I mean,
there are a number of questions given the breakdown and trust that occurred
between Israelis and Palestinians over the past few years.

The Palestinian Authority is in dire need of some support. It`s seen
its credibility wane both with its own people and in relation to Hamas.

So, I think what`s going to happen right now is Secretary Kerry is
going to look for various ways, what are the ways back eventually to the

I agree that the kind of focus on direct negotiations as the kind of
end itself has been not productive. It`s very possible that might not be
the right move right now, we`re looking at ways to keep the Palestinian
Authority to sustain them but not to sustain for their own. Remembering
what the goal here, is two states for two people.

And, again, I would just come back to some of the things the president
said here today -- I mean, a lot of people made the argument because of
transitions of Arab spring and uncertainty of the various revolutions, the
civil war in Syria, now is not the time for bold move towards peace making.
What the president said today is that the Israeli-Palestinian issue becomes
more salient not less salient because of the changes we`re seeing in the
region and I thought that was pretty bold.

DYSON: Yes. Well, you`ve already talked about the settlement issue.

But let`s listen to what President Obama said about the buildings --
that Israel would stop building on the West Bank as a precondition to peace


OBAMA: If the expectation is, is that we can only have negotiations
when everything is settled ahead of time, then there`s no point for


DYSON: The president was also critical of the Israel settlement
policy. So, at this point, you know, is compromise even possible? Because
he`s standing in Israel, saying they have to have some kind of
negotiations, is that just great political rhetoric or does it mean
anything that can have any substance and bite that challenges them to
follow through on that?

LEVERETT: I think, again, the idea of negotiations, the idea even of
a peace process is very much about the domestic politics here to make us
feel better about our policies there. To get a state is not something you
beg and plead the occupier to give you. That`s not how a state gets
formed. It`s unrealistic. We`ve tried it for 20 years. It`s failed.

So, I think what Obama was trying to do, I mean, he`s in Israel, he
went to Ramallah, he went to the West Bank.

DYSON: Right.

LEVERETT: He said I think the bare minimum of what he needed to say
to the Palestinians but it comes nowhere close to getting a state which is
necessary to resolve the conflict and to rescue America`s broader position
in the Middle East.

DYSON: What would it have looked like had Obama been serious about
that kind of business what you speak? What would his speech have

LEVERETT: It would have contained a clear reference to 1967 borders.
It would have contained the clear reference to our opposition settlement
activity and it would not have said clearly that we oppose Palestinians
going through the United Nations, because that`s really the only way to
avert violence.

The only non-violent way out is for the Palestinians to get their
legal case heard before the International Criminal Court. Otherwise,
they`re going to resort to violence. There`s no other way to get out of an

DYSON: Right. Well, this is powerful. We`ll certainly return to

I want to thank Hillary Mann Leverett and Matt Duss for their
tremendous contributions tonight.

Remember to answer tonight`s questions at the bottom of the screen and
share your thoughts on Twitter @EdShow and on Facebook. I want to know
what you think.

Vice President Biden has not given up on assault weapons ban. I`ll
tell you about that, next.


DYSON: More proof that Republicans will only support something if it
affects them. The give battle takes on Saxby Chambliss` views on gay
marriage, coming up.

And a Kansas man has given the Westboro Baptist Church a taste of
their own medicine. He joins us later.

Make sure to join Ed Schultz in his new time slot, 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.,
Saturday and Sunday, coming soon.

Share your thoughts with us on Facebook and on Twitter using #EdShow.

We`ll be right back.


DYSON: Welcome back.

Moms and dads whose children were gunned down in the Sandy Hook
massacre are asking Congress to show courage tonight. But instead, Speaker
John Boehner is showing his cowardice.

This morning, grieving parents join Vice President Joe Biden and New
York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to demand comprehensive gun legislation.


common sense. It will not solve every problem. It will not end every gun
death, but it will substantially reduce it. And it matters. It matters.


DYSON: Biden says Congress should at least pass bill on universal
background checks.

The latest ABC News/"Washington Post" poll shows 91 percent of
Americans support background checks for gun show sales. In fact, 83
percent of voters in Speaker Boehner`s home state want background checks,
too. And, yesterday, it seemed like John Boehner agreed.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN: Do you think background checks -- improving
background checks might be part of that?

do a real background check on everyone, and maybe the Department of Justice
ought to enforce the law.


DYSON: Boehner said he wants a real background check on everyone.
But right after the interview, CNN told us what the speaker really meant to


TAPPER: I had to go back to his office and say, is he coming out in
favor of an improved background check system. No, he supports the
background system that exists to be implemented better.


DYSON: So, Boehner made a mistake of making sense.

Now, grieving parents are joining the vice president to demand better
of Boehner and the rest of Congress.


ashamed to see Congress doesn`t have the guts to stand up and make a change
and put a ban on these type of weapons and universal background checks.

people, leaders with moral courage.

BIDEN: You know, it must be awful being in public office and
concluding that even though you might believe you should take action, that
you can`t take action because of the political consequence you face. What
a heck of a way to make a living. I mean it sincerely.


DYSON: Let`s turn to Daniel Hernandez of People for the American Way
and John Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Gentlemen, welcome to the show.

having us.

DYSON: So, Mr. Hernandez, tell us why Boehner backtracked. What do
you think happened between the interview he gave, and subsequently clearing
up the fact he`s not for what he said he was for?

HERNANDEZ: You know, it`s one of those things it shows yet again the
impact that the National Rifle Association has on Capitol Hill. Tonight,
I`m here as a member of the Young Elected Officials Network where we just
put out a letter to combat that influence. There`s 42 young elected
officials from across the country said we cannot let the NRA be the only
voice, causing even the speaker of the, House to go and change his opinion
within 10 minutes of having given an interview.

So, we need to combat the influence of the National Rifle Association
to make sure that it`s not the only voice influencing the members of
Congress. And I think that`s the problem, not that anything changed he
remembered he needs to keep the NRA happy.

DYSON: Well, if Harry Reid is not a victim of this NRA lobby, as some
people have argued, Mr. Glaze, the Senate majority leader released the
statement tonight saying he started the process of bringing a gun violence
bill to the floor and he adds, quote, "But I want to be clear any bill that
passes the Senate must include background checks."

Has Senator Reid gotten the message and perhaps standing up to the NRA
and other forces lobbying against such sensible legislation?

say I know that Senator Reid is catching a lot of heat for taking the
assault weapons ban out of the bill. But I don`t place the heat on Senator
Reid. I put the heat on senators who said that they didn`t want and won`t
vote for assault weapons ban. That`s not his fault, he`s counting votes.

But what he said tonight was really important. We`ve also said that
while an assault weapons ban is important when the public is ready and
demanding some change, that a background check is probably the most
important thing you do to save some lives, so we`re very happy that he come
out and said what he said.

DYSON: Sure.

Daniel, your life has been changed by gun violence. You helped save
Gabby Gifford`s life after she was shot two years ago. Have you seen any
change in America`s attitude on gun control?

HERNANDEZ: You know, I didn`t see a change what happened in Tucson.
But, you know, as a school board member, someone here in the local
community having to take care of the children in my district, Newtown was
the really big wake-up call. So, it`s sad for me to see that even in light
of Newtown, we`re still having the same kind of debates we had two years
ago, because I would have hoped that after Tucson when a member of the
House was shot, that members of congress would have woken up and said we
need to do something.

Unfortunately, it took a tragic incident where there was 26 people
killed, including 20 1st graders there seems to be this up swell and this
wake-up call. But I thinks it`s a sad state of events in this country
where we have to wait until we`re most vulnerable, our children are victims
for us to act.

DYSON: Well, it`s a good point, Mr. Glaze. Have we missed and
opportunity to pass comprehensive gun laws in the wake of Newtown?

GLAZE: Oh, I don`t think so. It took seven years to pass the assault
weapons ban and get the Brady Bill enacted. I don`t think it`s going to
take anywhere near that long to pass really comprehensive laws that are
going to make a big difference.

Now, the Senate is about ready to be out of session for a couple
weeks. We`re going to have dozens of organizers and hundreds of folks who
believe as we do because they`ve actually experienced the loss of child or
loved one or shot themselves, are going to do everything they can to make
sure these changes happen. And I think when the senators come back from
recess on April 8th, they`re going to be more ready than they are today to
actually buckle down and look at the legislation that is actually before
them and do what the country is calling on them to do in overwhelming

DYSON: Let me ask you both very briefly, do Americans believe we
already have universal background checks? Is that part of the problem

GLAZE: Absolutely right. Not only does the general public think
that`s already the law everybody has to get a background check when, in
fact, at least 40 percent of gun sales are never subject to federal check,
but the majority of NRA members according to a poll we took last summer
actually believe that that`s the case. So, when you hear people say we
don`t need stricter gun laws it`s because they think the gun laws are
already stricter than they really are.

DYSON: All right.

HERNANDEZ: And that`s exactly right. Education is one of the most
important things that we need to do, when it comes to this issue, where
people are confused, think, isn`t that something already on the books,
because I`ve heard the word "background check", I assume that they were
checking everyone. That`s one of the things I noticed in my travels around
the country where people already think this is getting done and it`s not
and it`s a huge problem, where you`re going to drive a truck through the
loopholes in place right now.

DYSON: Well, does the president to push this narrative more, because,
you know, there has been consternation out here in the hinterland, so to
speak, where people say, look, if we have -- we just saw Mr. Obama in
Israel saying without being pushed, politicians won`t do the right thing.
Should we push him more? Should he be pushed more to make this narrative

GLAZE: Sure. I think the more pressure there is from the public that
is actually having a once in a generation conversation how we deal with
guns in this country -- sure, I think they should be telling the president
that they support his work and want him to do as much as he can.

But I have to say as someone in the room today in city hall with like
Mayor Bloomberg and Joe Biden, who are doing such a magnificent job, I`m
not sure they need a fire under them. And I remembered as I was standing
there, that the last time we had an assault weapons ban passed in the
United States Senate, guess who was leading the charge? It was Joe Biden.

DYSON: Yes. But very clearly, a lot of Americans worry that if they
support this kind of legislation, they`ll be out of office soon. Any truth
to that?

GLAZE: I will give you one anecdote, in November of 2012, the NRA
spent more than $100,000 on only seven races. Six of their candidates
lost. There arose this mythology around the 1994 election after we passed
an assault weapons ban the Democrats lost Congress because of that vote.

In fact, if you look back at that election, it was a midterm election
with a lot of stuff going on and guns played a modest role if any, but the
NRA has tried to build that myth.

DYSON: All right. Daniel Hernandez and Mark -- I`m sorry, go ahead.

HERNANDEZ: I was going to say, we just need to let members of
Congress know we have their backs in upcoming elections if they stand up
and are actually part of this conversation. So, we don`t need to put
pressure on the president and vice president, because they`re already
leading this charge, so is Mayor Bloomberg. We need to talk to our members
of Congress and the senators who are the ones that are holding up the
conversation right now.

DYSON: All right, my friend. Well said.

Daniel Hernandez and Mark Glaze, thank you so much for joining us.

GLAZE: Thank you.

DYSON: Michele Bachmann says she wants to kill Obamacare before it
kills us all. The big panel takes on her latest lie, coming up.

And the White House tours aren`t the only things being shut down
because of budget cuts. Find out how sequestration is making it harder to
squeeze the Charmin.


DYSON: In the latest incarnation of Republican humanity, Senator
Saxby Chambliss of Georgia was recently asked if his stance on gay marriage
had changed. Senator Chambliss joked, "I`m not gay so I`m not going to
marry one."

Senator Chambliss, who is retiring in 2014 instead of seeking a third
term, did not use his freedom to say anything more magnanimous. This comes
in the wake of Republican Senator Rob Portman declaring his support of gay
marriage two years after his son, Will, told him he was gay.

To sum up, one Republican senator managed to attain a case of
proximity empathy after his own son`s personal revelation. And for that,
we applaud him. But with this reminder, does it really have to happen to
you personally or within your family to develop a little empathy?

Then we have another Republican senator who makes a crass joke about
it, not me, not my problem. It brings to mind remarks of Republican
Senator Jon Kyl discussing the health care bill in 2009.


SEN. JON KYL (R), ARIZONA: First of all, I don`t need maternity care.
So requiring that to be in my insurance policy is something that I don`t
need and will make the policy more expensive.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I can object with my colleague, I think your
mom probably did.

KYL: Okay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Kyl has the floor.

KYLE: Yeah, over 60 years ago, my mom did.


DYSON: Getting a clearer picture, perhaps some Republican lawmakers
need to be gay to support equality, or at least come out of the closet.
They need to be a women to support women`s reproductive rights and health
care prerogatives. They need to be destitute in order to understand the
need for basic health care, unemployment insurance, retirement security and
the like.

Let`s bring in Richard Wolffe, vice president and executive editor of, Michelle Goldberg, senior contributing writer at "Newsweek" and
"the Daily Beast," and Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for "the
Huffington Post."

Richard Wolffe, Senator Chambliss had an opportunity to say something
a bit less ridiculous. God knows substantive might be asking for too much.
Even if he were not prepared to change his view, isn`t that right?

faced with being a member of what Bobby Jindal called the stupid party,
they`re very happy to continue being stupid, right? They -- this doesn`t I
think, in the end, change where the Republican party is headed. Rob
Portman was a more important marker than Saxby Chambliss.

But what we saw in the election was one stupid candidate can actually
brand the entire party because there`s a significant group of that party
that still thinks and talks like this. So it does affect the whole group
of them. And unless they can correct this kind of behavior, unless they
have the good sense and grace to correct it, they`re going down as
individuals and as party.

DYSON: Good sense and grace, indeed. Michelle, this very issue,
marriage equality, is one of the prisms through which younger voters are
now judging the Republican party. That`s a tremendous shift, a
paradigmatic shift that the older Republicans may not be ready for. How
are they doing?

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, "THE DAILY BEAST": Well, they`re not ready for it
and their whole party isn`t ready for it. I mean, this is an example of
the bind that the Republican party is in, because while younger voters have
changed and the country as a whole has changed, the Republican party still
really hasn`t.

You know, Republicans might be more supportive of gay marriage than
they used to be, but they`re still overwhelmingly against it. And I would
guess that the voters who are going to elect Saxby Chambliss` successor are
overwhelmingly against it.

So the republican party isn`t just a prisoner of kind of its leaders.
It`s also a prisoner of its base.

DYSON: Right. Ryan, you`ve spoken with Senator Portman about his
personal and politically motivated shift. What can you tell us about
what`s going on.

RYAN GRIM, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Earlier this week, I asked him. I
said, do you wish, looking back, that it hadn`t taken this personal
experience to get you to shift on this? He paused and said, well, it did,
which to me is kind of an affirmation, like, well, you know, I almost wish
I would have gotten here on my own, but I didn`t.

Then he walked away toward the Senate chairman, and then he turned
around and actually came back to the group of reporters that I was with and
elaborated on it. It seemed like something that he himself had already
been asking himself. And he explained it more.

He said, you know, I`ve always been an budget wonk; economic growth
and budget issues have always been the thing that I`ve been focusing on.
And that`s just where my mind was and that`s just where I was. I think,
reading between the lines, he is trying to say, look, I was just following
the party line on this issue. It wasn`t that having a gay son allowed him
to look at the issue differently. It`s that it allowed him to look at it
for the first time.

I don`t think he had ever really given it a ton of thought before.
And what`s sad about that is that means, when it comes to issues of class,
for instance, we are probably not going to make a lot of progress with the
Republican party or even with a lot of Democrats in the Senate or the House
because they don`t actually know poor people and working class people.

So it`s much harder for them to identify with those folks.

DYSON: Well, isn`t it interesting? It`s harder for them to identify
with those folks. But yet and still -- and I want to ask all three of you
this -- the Republicans and conservatives more broadly are always saying
identity politics are horrible; don`t let your existential experience be
the predicate for your judgement in an analytical sense.

But here we have existential appropriation of experience as the basis
for understanding the other. Now we don`t have to be profound
philosophers, Aristotle or Plato or their legacies to understand here,
something is wrong and awry. And identity politics, if they`re bad for
black and Latino and gay and transgendered and feminist people, they ought
to be wrong for Republicans too. Or if they`re right, then everybody ought
to share more broadly in them. What do you make of that?

GRIM: It would be nice if we could -- if the Republicans or the
Democrats in Congress could get to the -- to a policy position without
identity politics, without some existential experience with the particular
situation, but they don`t. So the best you`re going to do is put them in a
situation where they actually are confronted with it.

But when it comes to class, that almost -- that never happens unless
it`s on the Acella, where they happen to meet a ticket taker or something
like that. Even that, because he`s a government worker, he`s probably
actually making a living wage.

DYSON: Right. Michelle and Richard, very quickly?

GOLDBERG: The Republican party, I don`t necessarily buy the premise
that the Republican party is the enemy of identity politics.

DYSON: Of course not.

GOLDBERG: Right, they love to slam identity politics. But there is
no party that`s more, A, obsessed with cultural signifiers, and also that
is more obsessed with kind of token figureheads. As much as they hate
affirmative action, this is a party that`s on the hunt for any plausible
face that they can put on -- that they can put on themselves that`s not a
kind of grouchy old white man.

DYSON: Yeah. Richard?

WOLFFE: Look, these aren`t individual identity politics. These are
universal values. We`re talking about civil rights here. Maybe the other
side thinks that they stand for freedoms and opportunity and they have a
different frame on universal values. But in politics, you`re never going
to find enough of a mosaic to elect you, at least not statewide or
nationwide. This is about human rights and civil rights. And they know
that. And that`s why Rob Portman is talking this way.

DYSON: All right. Let`s shift gears just a bit and review the latest
from Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: The American people, especially
vulnerable women, vulnerable children, vulnerable senior citizens, now get
to pay more and they get less. That`s why we`re here, because we`re saying
let`s repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children,
kills senior citizens.

Let`s not do that. Let`s love people. Let`s care about people.
Let`s repeal it now, while we can.


DYSON: Kill and love. Wow. Richard, this is the latest salvo on a
dead issue, so to speak. Other than base politics, what is Congresswoman
Bachmann possibly up to with such a dramatic speech.

WOLFFE: I thought she was just going to say, let`s save the babies.
You know, she`s Michele Bachmann. OK, so when she runs another time for
the Republican presidential nomination, she is going to come out with stuff
like this and probably again skew the argument toward the more crazy side
in this context.

What`s interesting is clearly she has no sense that this is
achievable. They`re not going to repeal Obamacare. Anyone sensible knows
that. The language is hyped up and heated. If she thinks she can do what
she did -- and by the way, she failed at in 2012 and do it all over again,
I would be less than surprised, because that speaks to her mindset, which
is perplexing.

DYSON: Richard Wolffe, Michelle Goldberg and Ryan Grim, thank you so
very much.

GOLDBERG: Thank you.

GRIM: Thank you.

DYSON: Next, budget cuts are getting really personal. Find out
whether the sequester is forcing some work others to BYOTP.


DYSON: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW. Sequestration is starting to hit
home for millions of Americans. For proof, let`s take a look at some local
news reports from all across America, courtesy of our friends over at


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Due to the sequester, small airports across the
country are being forced to close their air traffic control towers because
of budget cuts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Civilian workers here are losing more than one
twelfth of their pay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Acadia faces nearly 400,000 dollars in cuts
because of the sequester.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Head Start schools like this one behind in
Washington County will be feeling the effects of the sequestration after
they have to cut five percent -- that`s 150,000 dollars -- from their 2012
fiscal year budget.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There will not only be a loss of jobs, but also
a loss in air traffic. And officials say that could lead to even more job
losses here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More federal employees will get furlough notices
this week because of the sequestration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Workers will be forced to stay at home without pay
for a total of 22 days.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s 9,000 meals these low income students
won`t have access to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Windsor, Missouri had to cut toilet paper from
the budget. Workers have been forced to supply their own.


DYSON: Wall Street has been raking up record high after record high.
Unemployment is waning and the economy is showing signs of life for the
first time in years. All that is about to change. Only two things could
drag us back from the brink of this manmade crisis. Republicans need to
accept closing loopholes for corporate giants, and rich folks, or as the
Great Rachel Maddow said last night, repeal the sequester.

Tonight in our survey, I asked you will the Middle East take President
Obama`s message of compromise to heart? Sixty seven percent say yes; 33
percent say no.

Coming up, we`ll talk to Aaron Jackson about his equality house and
how his new neighbors are reacting to it.


DYSON: Welcome back. Real estate is all about location, location,
location. It`s what drove our next guest to spend over 80,000 bucks on a
house, sight unseen. Aaron Jackson bought the house in Topeka, Kansas for
its view of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Now the church has a colorful new neighbor. Take a look at the
Equality House. It sits right across from the street from the home of Fred
Phelps` homophobic Westboro Baptist Church, a group made infamous for
picketing the funerals of soldiers and victims of hate crimes.

It all started when Aaron Jackson, cofounder of the charity Planting
Peace, heard the story of the nine-year-old who stood up to the church`s
notoriously extreme protesters. It was this photograph of Joseph Miles
(ph) holding up a handmade sign counter protesting the church`s message of
hate that inspired Jackson to take action and some research.

While using Google Earth to locate the church, Jackson noticed that a
neighboring house was for sale. By the time he inquired, that house was no
longer available. But he managed to buy another property just across the
street. And the idea for the Equality House was born.

Just this week, when the weather finally got warm enough, Jackson
hired a company to paint the house the rainbow colors of the Gay Pride
Flag. The Equality House will be used to accommodate volunteers and raise
money for an anti-bullying campaign.

Joining me now is Aaron Jackson, this enterprising young man, co-
founder of the charity for Planting Peace. Thank you so much for joining


DYSON: So Aaron, you bought this house. You moved all the way from
Florida to Topeka.

JACKSON: That`s right.

DYSON: Now I`m sure you were watching over the rainbow and you were
watching "the Wizard of Oz." But what inspired to do all of this? What
were you hoping to achieve?

JACKSON: You know, roughly 4,000 kids every year kill themselves due
to the message out there that they`re not good enough. My goal is to
simply counter that message and to express pride. And so that`s why we`re
doing this.

DYSON: Yeah. But you chose that house because you wanted to what,
symbolically express your views in direct opposition to the bigotry that
they represent? So the optics on this are very important, right?
Location, where you got the house and what you`re looking at, that all says
something about your politics there?

JACKSON: Absolutely. The Westboro Baptist Church is the poster child
of anti -- being anti-gay. So we figured no better place to go and no
better place to start than to start changing that message was with the
Westboro Baptist Church.

DYSON: Any bananas or tomatoes thrown at you from the Westboro
Baptist Church?

JACKSON: No, not yet. They sent out some vile Tweets here and there.
But other than that, no, it`s been pretty calm.

DYSON: Yes. So what`s the response been like from the broader
community. Of course, when you do something like this, media is friendly
to you or on your side, so to speak because there`s such a huge divorce and
divide between both sides there.

JACKSON: Absolutely. The -- the world community has come together
and backed us up. It`s been truly amazing. The local community, on the
national level and global community has all just sent emails of
encouragement. It`s been truly amazing.

DYSON: Great.

JACKSON: We feel honored.

DYSON: Have you ever done anything like this before? Not just buy a
house, but taking public stands in defense of ideas that help vulnerable

JACKSON: Of course. My charity does many things. We have dewarming
programs all around the world. We have orphanages all around the world.
This is our first time, yes, taking a stance like this, such a direct

DYSON: Right. What`s the value of that? What motivated you to move
from being a person that identified with the vulnerable and see people on
television -- but you were actually so motivated yourself that you dug into
your own pocket and came up with the money to generate enough capital to
buy this house, because you were so moved. Tell us, what is it about this
young man`s protest and the story of this church that really got you going?

JACKSON: You know, as I just said, our charity does many things. We
have always wanted to get into the equality movement. When the opportunity
arose we said, why not. We figured it would be a good way to launch our
program. As I said before, roughly 4,000 kids kill themselves every year;
50 kids everyday try to commit suicide because of the message out there
that`s telling them that they`re not good enough. We just want to change
that message. That`s what this is simply about.

Through donations that come in, we plan on putting those into anti-
bullying programs throughout the nation. So creating and sustaining and
supporting other existing anti-bullying programs.

DYSON: And what is this value of having that house painted with that
gay pride sign and symbol, signifying to not only the church across the
street but to the world?

JACKSON: Yeah. As I said, they`re the poster child of hate. We just
wanted to show our pride. And it`s send a wave around the world. And we
can`t be more excited about that. It`s just been such a moving experience
to be a part of this.

DYSON: What have your interactions with the Phelps been like? What`s
it like to have them as neighbors?

JACKSON: I`ve run into them a couple times before we painted the
house. Before we did this, we kept this on the down low. We didn`t want
the city to find out what we were doing. We did not want the Phelps to
find out what we were doing. Shirley Phelps did come over the day that we
were painting. And she was taking a picture of our home. And we did ask
her how she felt about -- if she like our home. She said she loved color.

So we`re very happy that she loves our color schemes.

DYSON: Right. Aaron Jackson, thank you so very much.

That`s THE ED SHOW. I`m Michael Eric Dyson, in for Ed Schultz. Now a
woman who bring the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, Rachel Maddow.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.


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