Posts Tagged ‘Karl Rove’

Sunday talk show highlights, March 21, 2010

March 22, 2010

This Monday, Meet The Press, This Week and Face The Nation.

On Meet The Press, host David Gregory read from an article by the National Journal’s Ron Brownstein that summed up the situation of the American health care system on the day of the historic vote in the House:

CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, has projected that the Senate bill would raise enough revenue and sufficiently cut existing spending to both cover its costs and reduce the federal deficit in the near and long term. For fiscal hawks, that’s a powerful incentive for action. But equally compelling could be the price of inaction. If Obama’s plan fails, as President Clinton’s did, it’s likely that no president would attempt a seriously expand coverage for many years. The independent Medicare actuary has projected that under current trends the number of uninsured will increase by 10 million, to about 57 million, by 2019. Providing uncompensated care to so many uninsured people would further strain physicians and hospitals – and inflate premiums as those providers shift costs to their insured patients.

Later in the show, Gregory read a letter from RNC Chairman Michael Steele penned to its supporters, and followed up with a question to Steele:

MR. GREGORY: “After a year a pushing his radical socialist health care `reform’ experiment, Obama has just a few more days to wait to see” if “his number one priority” succeeded.  … “If Pelosi can successfully cajole, intimidate, coerce her Democrat majority into approving a bill the American people are against by a 3:1 margin, Obama and the rest of the radical Democrats in Washington will see their dream of government-run, government-rationed health care come true.” And, you know, critics of, of that kind of appeal with that sort of heavy rhetoric say this is a healthcare package that is more moderate than President Nixon actually put forward.

MR. STEELE:  Well, not the way the American people see it.

Facts are facts, no matter how the American people perceive them. Politicians, however, are masters of misrepresentation, and that’s why facts don’t always command the weight they deserve in political debates.

On a related note, NBC’s political director Chuck Todd – Washington’s foremost advocate of the goatee – talked about why Democrats and Republicans disagree on health care reform:

One thing I think we forget … on the issue of health care is that this actually gets at the philosophical divide between Democrats and Republicans. I’ve asked many a Republican and many a Democrat on this issue, is health care coverage a right or a privilege? And that divide in it, it is a philosophical divide. So, on this issue, it shouldn’t be surprising that we’re sitting here so polarized. It’s sort of the fundamental reason why somebody’s a Democrat, believing in a more activist government, or somebody’s a Republican, believing in keeping government smaller. … You know, when I was hearing the two party chairmen saying, “Well, maybe on immigration, maybe on energy they can come”–well, that’s because they, actually, are regional differences, this isn’t a philosophical divide. This is truly one of the great philosophical divides of American politics.

PBS’ Tavis Smiley also participated in the roundtable:

I’m not naive when I say this and know that I’m sitting in Washington this morning–the problem with Washington is that everything is about political calculation. It’s never about doing the right thing on behalf of the American people. It’s about, ‘Is this going to help me?  Is this going to hurt me? Does it help or hurt in my fundraising? Am I going to win or am I going to lose?’ LBJ did the right thing on civil rights because it was right for the country. You cannot become a transformational president, we cannot become transformational people if everything is about media, market, and political calculation; and that’s what’s wrong with these very graphs, that nobody’s getting to the heart of the fact that Americans are dying in this debate. We’ve never talked about even health disparities. I was in Chicago yesterday.  Thirty-two hundred black folk every year die in Chicago just because of health disparities. So it’s–we got to move beyond this–again, I’m not naive here, but we got to move beyond political calculation if we’re going to advance these big issues in America.

I’m sorry Mr. Smiley, but Washington will never truly move beyond political calculation. The political calculations simply aren’t favorable enough.

This Week was hosted by Jonathan Karl, and I’m pleased to announce that ABC News has finally reached a decision on George Stephanopoulos’ permanent replacement. Jake Tapper will host the show until CNN’s Christiane Amanpour takes over the hosting job in August (Politico has more).

The first part of the show featured a debate between Representatives John Larson (D-CT) and Eric Cantor (R-VA). Karl asked Larson whether or not the Democrats had enough votes in the House, and Larson’s reply signaled his confidence of a 216+ vote margin in the House:

We have the votes. We are going to make history today. Not since President Roosevelt passed Social Security, Lyndon Johnson passed Medicare, and today, Barack Obama will pass health care reform, demonstrating whose side we’re on.

Also touting the historic nature of the health care reform, Karl played a clip of President Obama’s speech to the Democratic caucus on Saturday March 20. Quoting Abraham Lincoln, Obama stated that:

We are not bound to win, but we are bound to be true. We are not bound to succeed, but we are bound to let whatever light we have shine.

In the end, the Democrats “won” with the passage of the bill in the House, but in hindsight, if the bill hadn’t passed, the quote would have worked either way.

Moving along to the show’s biggest mischaracterization, courtesy of Republican Whip Eric Cantor (VA):

What it is, Jonathan, it is about trying to attack the American ideal. That’s what’s going on with this bill.

In the end, the most memorable moment of the show came with the showdown between Karl Rove and David Plouffe. Attacking Rove and the Republican Party, Plouffe stated that:

Well, first of all, Karl, the Republicans have zero credibility, about as much credibility as the country of Greece does, to talk about fiscal responsibility.

Rove shot back:

For God’s sake, will you stop throwing around epithets and deal with the facts for once, David?

Later on in their heated exchange, Rove stated that

We will fight the election on this, and the Democrats will have significant losses in the House and Senate as a result of this bill.

Plouffe bounced back:

Well, listen, Karl and a lot of Republicans want to call the election all over. They ought to break out that ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner they put on the USS Abraham Lincoln, OK?

Oh snap.

During the roundtable discussion, George Will described his perception of the aftermath following the House vote:

Now, Democrats who will vote in the House today for this think they’re going to put it behind them. The odds are very good, after the reconciliation procedures are done in the Senate, that it will come back to the House, so we’re going to be wallowing in health care for a long time to come. And, finally, once this is passed, the American people will look at the health care system and say, ‘This is the system the Democrats wanted,’ so every complaint they have is going to be a complaint about Democrats.

On Face The Nation, host Bob Schieffer devoted the entire show to the House vote on the Senate bill, save his comment at the end of the show:

Finally today, Washington’s always been a one-story town. And for the last few weeks, months really, the story has been health care reform. It’s all we’ve been talking about around here, which is probably one reason, a rather important anniversary passed without much notice–March 19th. Ring a bell? Probably not. But March 19th was the seventh anniversary of the Iraq invasion, which began our longest war. The heavy new cycle was not the only reason it went unnoticed. We remember the wars and events that had an impact on our daily lives–December 7th or 9/11. But in the age of the all-volunteer military, few of us remember much about the war that had so little effect on our day-to-day lives, especially, a war where questions still exist over whether it should have been fought at all? The Iraq war was fought by one half of one percent of us. And unless we were part of that small group or had a relative who was, we went about our lives as usual most of the time–no draft. No new taxes. No changes. Not so for the small group who fought the war and their families. Ask them about the sacrifice, the death toll of nearly forty-four hundred Americans and the thousands more who were wounded. Now, that it is finally winding down, thousands of Americans are still there. And history will eventually decide if it was worth it all. While history decides, let us remember that whatever history’s verdict, the fate of those who died there or suffered life-altering injuries can never change. Good war or bad, for them it is the same. The war have may–may have had little impact on most of our lives, but we owe that small group of people.

In the end, who had the most memorable phrase this Sunday? Although he struggled in the debate with Karl Rove, David Plouffe was able to fire back with a couple of memorable lines. First and foremost:

Karl and a lot of Republicans want to call the election all over. They ought to break out that “Mission Accomplished” banner they put on the USS Abraham Lincoln, OK?

If it’s Monday, it’s Sunday talk show highlight time.

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Sunday talk show highlights, March 14, 2010

March 15, 2010

This Monday, Meet The Press, This Week, and State of the Union.

As I pointed out last Sunday, when the White House wants a certain message out there, one of their representatives headline Meet The Press and This Week. Last week it was Health & Human Services Secreteary Kathleen Sebelius. This week it was Obama’s Senior Adviser David Axelrod – who also headlined State of the Union.

Axelrod certainly had his talking points down, and his most repeated phrase was that the American people ”deserves an up or down vote on health care”, a line repeated on This Week by former Obama White House communications director Anita Dunn.

On Meet The Press, Tom Brokaw – the man with the deepest voice in television news – was sitting in for David Gregory. Brokaw started the interview with Axelrod by laying out the road ahead for passing health care reform:

First, the House will be voting on the Senate bill, which was approved in December.

The House will then also vote on a package of changes via reconciliation. That’s a procedure that they can get passed on a majority vote mostly to do with budget items.

The president then would sign the Senate health bill if it gets passed.

The Senate passes the House’s package of changes from reconciliation with a simple majority vote.

And then the president would sign the reconciliation bill.

In his interview with Karl Rove, Brokaw asked the following question on Rove’s perception of media bias:

You describe a Washington Post columnist as “snarky.” You complain kind of consistently–and people in your position have done this for a long, long time–about the press coverage. You’re now at Fox News. Do you think that Fox News is fair to President Obama?

Mr. Rove answered:

I think they–on the news side, absolutely. I think they’ve got first-rate individuals at the White House who do their job in as an objective, fair and balanced way.  Yeah, absolutely.

On a related topic, Brokaw’s discussion with New York Times’ columnists David Brooks and Tom Friedman focused on the phenomenon of so-called ”information cocoons”:

MR. BROKAW:  Let’s talk about this country and what’s going on here right now. You said to me over the weekend that you’re going to be spending more time looking at America because there’s so much going on at this time. Let’s share with our audience what David had to say recently about the political climate. “In a sensible country, Obama would be able to clearly define [his modern brand of moderate progressivism] without fear of offending the people he needs to get legislation passed. But we don’t live in that country. We live in a country in which many people live in information cocoons in which they only talk to members of their own party and read blogs of their own sect.” Has the political culture been hijacked by the mechanics of the information technology?

MR. BROOKS: Well, I do think everything–everybody gets to pick their own reality these days. The–a lot of liberals think Obama’s been very weak and he’s not forceful enough. I think he’s been amazingly tenacious on Afghanistan, on health care, on education. Pretty tough guy, I think. A lot of conservatives think he’s a socialist, trying to turn us into Sweden. Give me a break! Is that what this health care is about? But people like that because they want all differences to be 180 degrees rather than 30 degrees. And so they get to pick that reality because it makes them feel good.

Brooks’ “information cocoons” can certainly be viewed as another product of The Opinionated Decade.

Switching shows, This Week was once again hosted by Jake Tapper, and he interviewed Senator Lindsey Graham (SC-R) after his interview with Axelrod. Commenting on that interview, Graham stated:

MR. GRAHAM: … The interview I just heard is spin, campaigning. I thought the campaigning was over. Are you trying to tell me and the American people that Scott Brown got elected campaigning against a Washington bill that really is just like the Massachusetts bill?

The American people are getting tired of this crap. No way in the world is what they did in Massachusetts like what we’re about to do in Washington. We didn’t cut Medicare — they didn’t cut Medicare when they passed the bill in Massachusetts. They didn’t raise $500 billion on the American people when they passed the bill in Massachusetts.

To suggest that Scott Brown is basically campaigning against the bill in Washington that is like the one in Massachusetts is complete spin. I’ve been in bipartisan deals, I was in the “gang of 14” to stop the Senate from blowing up when the Republicans wanted to change the rules and use the majority vote to get judges through.

If they do this, it’s going to poison the well for anything else they would like to achieve this year or thereafter.

On a lighter note, Tapper hinted at the Massa-saga by stating that he couldn’t “promise any tickle fights” in the introduction of the Roundtable.

During the Roundtable discussion, Tapper posed the following question to George Will:

George, Congressman, former Congressman Ray LaHood, who is now the transportation secretary, but was a Republican member of Congress, he has an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune saying — talking about why, as a member of the House, he would have voted for this bill, because this bill reduces the deficit and also brings down health care costs, and it will make insurance more affordable. Do you believe he would have voted for it as a Republican congressman?

Will responded:

Not a bit. It reduces the deficit because you have ten years of taxes and six years of benefits and other accounting gimmicks. You have said a moment ago essentially what Mr. Axelrod said there, which is, gosh, the American people like elements of this bill so let’s pass this bill. I like sauerkraut and I like ice cream. I don’t like sauerkraut ice cream. When you put this mish-mash together — the public has looked at it. Now, Nancy Pelosi said this week, we have to pass this bill so we can find out what’s in it. I think the American people already know what’s in it.

Anita Dunn and Jake Tapper responded to the sauerkraut ice cream comment:

DUNN: I’m not actually sure you ever tried sauerkraut ice cream and I’m not sure anybody has.

TAPPER: It is quite scrumptious.

DUNN: It could be very good.

One last thing stood out on This Week. It was on the topic of the so-called palace intrigue in the White House:

TAPPER: Speaking of the process argument, in the last few weeks, this town has been obsessed with this palace intrigue story of whether or not the fact that the bill has had such troubles getting passed, is the fault of the president’s advisers, whether David Axelrod, who was here earlier, or White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. In fact, Rahm, if you look at the covers of the New York Times magazine and the New Republic, he is quite the cover boy. And Anita, having worked with these two men, Axelrod portrayed as something of the president’s liberal conscience, Emanuel portrayed as the pragmatic deal maker. Is this story of in-fighting and palace intrigue, is it fair?

DUNN: It’s a very overblown story. Are there disagreements among the president’s advisers? Of course. They’re human beings and everybody brings different things to the table.

But you know, David and Rahm, who are very old friends, are kind of like the Oscar and Felix of the White House. Right? They are different stylistically, but they’re not all that different when it comes to their approach. And where they are totally united is in their commitment to the president and what he wants to get done. So I think these stories, you know, when things — when White Houses hit a rough patch in this town, people go from being smart to being stupid in about a nanosecond. And I think that’s kind of where we are right now. I’ll put myself in the realms of the stupid right now, but the reality is that I think this is one of the more overblown stories you’re going to see.

ABC News’ Cokie Roberts joined in:

ROBERTS: You have White House intrigue stories when things are going badly. When things are going well, it’s a well-oiled machine and everything is, you know, and everyone is behaving well and all that. When things start to fall apart, you get these stories.

On State of the Union, host Candy Crawley’s interview with David Axelrod was followed by an interview with House Minority Leader John Boehner (OH-R). The majority of the interview focused on health care, and the essentials of Boehner’s approach are layed out in the following exchange:

CROWLEY: What’s the Republican role now on the House side? What is there left for you all to do?

BOEHNER: I’m doing everything I can to prevent this bill from becoming law. Plain and simple. We have offered our ideas.

CROWLEY: And what do you do?

BOEHNER: We’ve asked the president to sit down and work with us. They have refused all the way through the process. And–

CROWLEY: You had the summit.

BOEHNER: Oh, they had the summit. We offered our ideas.

CROWLEY: And he incorporated some, did he not?

BOEHNER: That — and — and took a couple of Republican bread crumbs and put them on top of their 2,700 page bill. That’s not good enough. And so while — what I’m doing is working with my colleagues to keep the American people engaged in this fight. I don’t have enough votes on my side of the aisle to stop the bill. But I, along with a majority of the American people who are opposed to this, can stop this bill. And we’re going to do everything we can to make it difficult for them, if not impossible to pass the bill.

In the end, who had the most memorable phrase this Sunday? Unlike most other Sunday’s, there weren’t many rhetorical flourishes to speak of (well, Boehner’s “Republican bread crumbs” was actually kind of good). However, George Will once again pulled one out of the hat:

You have said a moment ago essentially what Mr. Axelrod said there, which is, gosh, the American people like elements of this bill so let’s pass this bill. I like sauerkraut and I like ice cream. I don’t like sauerkraut ice cream.

If it’s Monday, it’s Sunday talk show highlight time.


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