On Hardball tonight: The Great Democratic Debate

Updated

Tonight, at 7 pm ET,  I want you to stay right here on msnbc for the Great Democratic Debate: Should President Obama run for re-election as a passionate progressive, daring to be cared radical by his enemies?  Should he shoot the moon like FDR in 1936?

Or should he head closer to the middle, stake out common ground with independents, warning against the radicalism of the right?  Should he play it shrewd like Clinton in 1996? 

Think of the stakes. If he gets it right, he and the Democrats get four more years to get the economy finally back on track, with full employment again the norm, the country heading forward to greener pastures, bluer skies, continuing the long, good march toward a cleaner environment, a protected climate, a more human, more tolerant, fully-employed society. 

If he blows it, the Tea Partiers and the Neo-Cons come roaring back, emptying out the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, erecting statues to Dick Cheney, celebrating the death penalty, elevating torture, ending environmental protection as we know it, breaking unions, punishing gays, starting more wars, enacting one more giant tax cut for the rich - or worse.      

Can you think of a more important debate? Let’s get at it tonight at 7 starting with the great Michael Moore and the brilliant Mark Penn.

The second round of the debate will be fought by two serious politicians: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont vs. former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell.  Sanders, a proud social Democrat, will carry the progressive banner.  Rendell, an un-apologetic Clinton ally, will make the case for Democratic moderation in the 2012 race.

In the third round, Joan Walsh of Slate will take on Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune.  Here the terrain will be the netroots and the newspapers and the networks.  How to win the battle there?      

Then we step into history with Doug Brinkley of Rice University against Sam Tanenhaus of the New York Times. What does history tell us about what race President Obama would be smart to run?

That’s one hour from now, right here on msnbc. 

Barack Obama

On Hardball tonight: The Great Democratic Debate

Updated