Tom Brokaw Sniffs: Public is 'Very Confused' About Obamacare

NBC's Tom Brokaw, in searching for a reason as to why Obamacare faced so much opposition, on Thursday's Today show, determined it was because the people can't quite grasp it, as he sniffed: "The public is very confused." The former NBC Nightly News anchor, on to promote his CNBC documentary about the Baby Boom generation, also told Today co-anchor Matt Lauer that the GOP was fighting the current version of the health care bill for merely "political" and not principled reasons and depicted the uninsured as victims to the now powerful tea party.[audio available here]

For his part, a bewildered Lauer expressed disbelief at the unpopular state of the Democratic Party right now as he questioned Brokaw: "Could you have imagined that a year later the President's popularity numbers would be dwindling, the Democratic Party would be reeling and they'd be justifiably nervous about the midterm elections?"

The following exchange was aired on the March 4 Today show:

MATT LAUER: Let's move on to health care, another subject that's a lightning rod. The President now says he'll go it alone with the Democrats in the Senate and, and in the House, this reconciliation idea. You only need 51 votes. But it's not clear whether he has those votes.

BROKAW: Well, that's the big issue for him. If he loses this one, this is a, not a fatal blow to his presidency, because he still has three years to go-

LAUER: But if you take this controversial step and miss on it- 

BROKAW: And miss on it. It's a big, big setback in his first year. He's been there just a little more than a year now. Republicans want to keep him mired down, for political reasons, in this health care debate for as long as possible. They know the public is very confused and very anxious about cost. People who have health care coverage say, "You know, I'm okay." And they're not looking at GDP and what percentage of it they're contributing to. They're just saying," I just want to make sure I've got health care." The people who don't have it are in a much smaller number. They don't have the political clout, for example, that the Tea Party now has. A number of people who are very close to the President, as financial advisers, are very anxious about this next two-week period. They think he's got a get a quick, clean bill that concentrates primarily on reducing cost.

LAUER: And gotta get back to dealing with the economy and jobs.

BROKAW: Well, the big thing is, Matt, come the fall, if the job picture is significantly improved and health care has been passed, health care doesn't kick in for a while, people will be responding much more to the job picture than they will be to the health care bill that was passed six months earlier.

LAUER: If we had sat here a year ago, and we probably did, you know, about a month after President Obama was sworn in.

BROKAW: Right.

LAUER: And the Democrats were riding high on this spirit of change. Could you have imagined that a year later the President's popularity numbers would be dwindling, the Democratic Party would be reeling and they'd be justifiably nervous about the midterm elections?

BROKAW: Well you've heard me say this before. I've been covering politics for a long, long time. My favorite theory is the UFO theory, the unforseen will occur. This is the unforseen in terms of it occurring. Once they got bogged down in health care and the unemployment numbers stayed as high as they did, they didn't pivot in a way that a lot of people, including some of their most enthusiastic supporters, felt that they should have. And there is a continuing anxiety about not enough people in the administration who have run big things, who are tied closely enough to successful businesses, not to the businesses that have failed. So they, they think they need to have a shake-up.

LAUER: Alright Tom Brokaw. Tom, good to have you here.

BROKAW: It's always good.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.