Posts Tagged ‘Who Gets What’

Sunday talk show highlights, March 28, 2010

March 29, 2010

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

On Meet The Press, host David Gregory interviewed Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). During the interview, Graham lost his connection with Washington twice, and Senator Schumer didn’t seem to mind:

Hey, I like the show this way. … It’s pretty good.

When Senator Graham got his audio back, he didn’t have any problems responding to Schumer’s talking points:

MR. GREGORY: But you, you have the floor here. You know what some of the discussion has been. What is your view?

SEN. GRAHAM: Yeah, I do, I do. Well…

During his time on the air, Graham was able to voice his own talking points as well, and he managed to squeeze in the phrase ”ponzi scheme” – referring to the cost of the health care bill – four times.

During the roundtable discussion, presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin had this to say about the signing of the health care bill:

I think the key thing that the legacy is not simply what this is going to do for the future but what it’s done, which you started on, to Obama’s leadership. You know, when LBJ got civil rights through in ’64, he said it felt so incredible inside to have done something that will make life better for millions of Americans. He said, ‘Now I’m going for voting rights. Now I’m going for Medicare.’ It emboldens a president. The fact that it was so tough in the Congress, and it became difficult, they’re in the trenches together, they’ve come out more unified, the Democrats. The party has its morale back up. Even the sense of the countries abroad, he’s a winner, he won something. I agree with you that the battle’s only begun, because the battle of public sentiment was never won by the Obama people. The Republicans won it with the ‘death panels,’ they won it maybe with falsehoods, but still the majority of the people still don’t feel good about this bill. So they still have a lot to do, I think, to compress their arguments and make sure that they reach the country. Lincoln once said … that ‘He who molds public sentiment is more important than he who passes laws.’ … That with public sentiment, everything’s possible. Without it, nothing is. Public sentiment still has to be won.

As Mark Twain once said: “Its name is Public Opinion. It is held in reverence. It settles everything. Some think it is the voice of God.”

Moving along, the following exchange took place between Democratic strategist Bob Shrum and Republican strategist Mike Murphy:

MR. SHRUM: … The Scott Brown era is the shortest era in the history of American politics, and he helped us pass the bill. Because once he got there, once he got there, the Democrats said, “We can’t ping-pong this back and forth between the Senate and the House. The House must pass the Senate bill, then we’ll fix it in reconciliation.”

MR. MURPHY: That was a freight train of disingenuous sound bites, and I can’t try to address them all.

MR. SHRUM: It was actually … the march of truth.

MR. MURPHY: It was baloney. I worked on the Romney healthcare bill, you didn’t. I know you don’t. Here’s my question for you.

MR. SHRUM: I do know the Romney healthcare bill. He helped write it with Senator Kennedy.

Flashback to the 1988 vice-presidential debate between Lloyd Bentsen and Dan Quayle:

QUAYLE: … I have as much experience in the Congress as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency. I will be prepared to deal with the people in the Bush administration, if that unfortunate event would ever occur.

BENTSEN: Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.

On a different note, Sarah Palin has been campaigning for Senator John McCain (R-AZ) in his re-election bid against former Representative J.D. Hayworth, and in her appearance she tied herself, McCain and the Republican Party to the Tea Party movement:

And let me clear the air right now. We might as well call it like we see it, right, and not beat around the bush. In respect to the tea party movement, beautiful movement. You know what, everybody here today supporting John McCain, we are all a part of that tea party movement.

Palin’s statement led to the following remarks:

MR. GREGORY: Is that true? That’s probably what Republicans hope is true, that the tea party is part of the Republican Party.

MR. MEACHAM: I think perhaps that crowd, perhaps it was true there. … But I don’t think so. … You know, when you have these extreme, more vociferous and ferocious movements, it doesn’t always help. As Churchill once said in another context, ’It’s a good starter but it’s not a good finisher.’ And the way parties absorb these things–and we’ve seen it a thousand times; we’ve seen it with Wallace, we’ve seen it with Perot–is they take some part of the grievance, address it and press forward. I think we’re–you know, partly we’re built for argument. I mean, we–the system wasn’t created to really resolve much.

At the end of the show, host David Gregory gave a short history lesson to put Democrats’ prospects in the upcoming mid-terms into context:

Forty-five years ago in Washington there was another heated debate about providing health care to Americans. Despite vigorous Republican opposition, a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress passed sweeping reform. July 30th, 1965, the country’s largest ever expansion of public health care, the Medicare program, was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in Independence, Missouri, the hometown of President Harry Truman, who had fought for a national health insurance program 20 years prior. A year later, Republicans made some big gains in the midterm election due in large part to President Johnson’s unpopularity. The GOP netted 47 House seats.

On This Week, guest host Jake Tapper moderated a debate between Governors Haley Barbour (R-MS) and Ed Rendell (D-PA). In a question to Governor Barbour, Tapper stated that he didn’t want to “pick on Mississippi”, but then he did:

Studies indicate Mississippi is last in the nation when it comes to health care, when it comes to access, quality, costs and outcomes.Your state ranks worst in the country for obesity, hypertension, diabetes, adult physical inactivity, low weight birth babies. It has one of the highest rates of infant mortality.

Ouch.

Later on, Governor Barbour stated that he was surprised to find that the percentage in favor of the bill isn’t higher than it is, considering the “liberal media’s” biased coverage in the days following the passage of the health care bill:

And candidly, I am surprised that the numbers in the Washington Post poll weren’t better. I mean, since this thing passed last weekend, we have seen the longest wet kiss in political history given to the Obama administration by the liberal media elite, and every day that goes by, it gets sloppier.

During the Roundtable, George Will took a stab at Paul Krugman’s Nobel Prize by stating:

Paul’s prizes in economics, not practical Washington wisdom.

Discussing Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Movement, Democratic strategist Donna Brazile stated that:

For the Democrats, I don’t think it hurts us at all to have Sarah Palin out there, whipping up the base, whipping up the tea parties. Stir up as much tea as you want. It’s producing a lot of coffee drinkers within the Democratic Party.

Switching shows, host Candy Crowley of CNN’s State of the Union focused on the aftermath of last Sunday’s tea party protest in Washington, D.C.:

SARAH PALIN: Hearing the news reports lately, kind of this ginned up controversy about us, common- sense conservatives, inciting violence because we happen to oppose some of the things in the Obama administration–

CROWLEY: FOX’s Sean Hannity had more than doubts.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: And this is denied by a lot of people. I am not seeing the videotape that confirms this yet. If anyone has it, send it to me, I want to see it, of racial slurs, anti- gay slurs being made at the tea party movement. Do we have any evidence that corroborates this at all?

CROWLEY: Two FOX reporters responded that they had seen no evidence. So we begin by trying to set the record straight. There is video. Watch Congressman Emanuel Cleaver as he approaches the man on the left. Cleaver confirms that this man spit on him. He confirms that this is the man whom Capitol Police detained. Cleaver chose not to press charges. From where they were positioned, CNN microphones did not pick up racial epithets.

As for anti-gay slurs, a CNN producer heard the word ‘faggot’ yelled at Barney Frank more than once in the House Longworth Building. The producer cannot say for sure whether it was coming from one person or more.

What to make of it? I find it astonishing that instead of simply denouncing the actions of a set of angry and hateful people, the talking heads over at Fox News and Sarah Palin (who is also a contributor to Fox News) have decided to go the usual route of attacking the “liberal media” by questioning their accounts. Come on. Attack the content of the health care bill all you want, but it shouldn’t be hard to simply denounce anyone uttering the N-word or “faggot”. The paranoid style in American politics is alive and kicking when reports of hateful remarks aren’t met with a backbone reflex to denounce, but with  questions of the truthfulness of the media’s account.

Over on Fox News Sunday,  host Chris Wallace moderated a debate touted as the “Florida Senate Showdown” between Florida Governor Charlie Crist and former Florida Speaker of the House Marco Rubio.

Wallace quoted the number of jobs created or saved by the stimulus money accepted by Governor Crist (87,000), to which Rubio replied the following:

If it’s bad for America, it can’t possibly be good for your state.

I guess if you think it’s bad for America to create or save jobs, it’s also bad for Florida to save or create jobs in Florida. Crist should’ve used those words against Rubio, but he didn’t.

Like Palin, Rubio has his own vision of the Tea Party Movement:

The Tea Party movement has been mischaracterized in the press as some sort of an organization. Tea Parties are where people go and what people do. It’s not what they are …, it is not an organization. It is a broad-based group of everyday Americans from all walks of life.

To summarize the debate: Crist would’ve voted for the stimulus, Rubio against it. Marco Rubio’s favorite Senator is Jim DeMint (R-SC), while Charlie Crist’s favorite Senators are John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Rubio has been endorsed by Mike Huckabee, Senator DeMint and Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI). Crist has been endorsed by Senators McCain, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN). Crist opposes parts of the health care bill, while Rubio would repeal the whole thing.

The essence of Rubio’s message: We can’t trust Governor Crist to stand up to Barack Obama. The essence of Crist’s message: Rubio can’t be trusted – he won’t even reveal his tax returns! Also, “I’ll put Floridians first, that’s why I accepted the stimulus.”

In the end, who had the most memorable phrase this Sunday? Shrum’s “Scott Brown era” was good, but the one that stuck was Governor Barbour’s “longest wet kiss in political history”:

Since this thing passed last weekend, we have seen the longest wet kiss in political history given to the Obama administration by the liberal media elite, and every day that goes by, it gets sloppier.

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

Happy Easter!

President Obama Signs the Health Care Bill

March 23, 2010

Today, in the Blue Room of the White House, President Obama signed the Senate bill passed by the House 219-212 on Sunday. The bill contains the so-called Cornhusker Kickback, Gator Aid, and the Louisiana Purchase (which will remain after the Senate’s reconciliation). In other words, the job isn’t finished yet, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has signed a letter stating he’ll finish the job in the Senate with a simple majority (i.e. reconciliation). Signed, sealed, but not yet quite delivered.

(Official White House photos by Pete Souza)

The House passes the Senate Health Care Bill

March 22, 2010

On Motion to Concur in Senate Amendments (H R 3590): 219-212

On Passage of Reconciliation Act of 2010 (H R 4872): 220-211

In the end, the Democrats not only got 216 votes, but 219 (and 220). This way, no single Democrat can be accused by his or her opponent in the upcoming midterm elections of having been the single vote who tipped the tally in the favor of the Democrats.

Official White House photographer Pete Souza took this picture of President Obama in the Roosevelt Room during the passage of the bill (with a picture of FDR – who passed Social Security – on the wall to the left):

In his remarks following the passage of the bill, President Obama stated that:

Tonight’s vote is not a victory for any one party. It’s a victory for them. It’s a victory for the American people, and it’s a victory for common sense. … We proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things. … We proved that this government — a government of the people and by the people — still works for the people.

Politico writes that the passage of the bill provides President Obama with an immense and immediate boost, while calling it a split decision for House Democrats. Townhall, on the other hand, writes that:

Strict partisanship has carried the day, and our health care system will never be the same.

Finally, take the time to watch House Minority Leader John Boehner’s remarks on the House floor:

We have failed to listen to America. And We have failed to reflect the will of our constituents.

Even if you disagree with the content of the health care reform awaiting the signature of President Obama, the fact remains: History was made today.

Read more here: Washington Post, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Roll Call, Washington Examiner, The New Republic.

(Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

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.

Getting to 216

March 18, 2010

Portrayed as the most important week in Barack Obama’s presidency thus far, with “the fate of his presidency” hinging on the up-coming health reform vote in the House, the big question remains: Does Nancy Pelosi have the votes?

Part A of that answer is “no she doesn’t”, but part B is “she’ll get there soon.”

Several “no” votes have already pledged that they’ll vote “yes” the next time around. The most prominent shift so far: Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). Appearing on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” on March 8, Kucinich stated that “without a robust public option that covers enough people to make a tangible market impact, it’s not worth making any effort to woo his vote” [paraphrased]. With that said, the wooing began, and after a one on one with the President, Kucinich stated on March 17 that:

This is a defining moment for whether or not we’ll have any opportunity to move off square one on the issue of health care. And so even though I don’t like the bill, I’ve made a decision to support it in the hopes that we can move towards a more comprehensive approach once this legislation is done.

While Kucinich has swallowed some pride and moved a few steps to the center (while at the same time getting a lot of press attention, some face time with the President and a demonstration of his political importance), the key opponents to the Senate bill remain on the right side of the political spectrum within the Democratic Caucus. Abortion opponents – led by Representative Bart Stupak (D-MI) – have pledged to oppose the Senate bill because it doesn’t, in their view, go as far as it should (i.e. the House bill). Stupak originally had about a dozen votes behind him, but he recently lost one of them when Representative James Oberstar (D-MN) stated that he would vote yes. Does this signal the beginning of the end of Stupak’s no-bloc, or are the ones remaining intent on sticking with the position on abortion originally advocated by the Catholic leadership?

In the end, the most important question isn’t “Does Nancy Pelosi have the votes?”, but “Who wants to be the single vote standing in the way of health reform?”

“Yae” or “nay”, Democrats running for re-election in November will have to deal with the bill no matter what. They either have to run with it, or run from it. It’s not yet clear which option is the best one.

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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