Remember Barack Obama's pipe dream put forward during the 2008 presidential election cycle - that he was going to usher in an era of "post-partisanship" and change from "the politics of usual" in Washington? How's that working out? Not so well according to NBC "Meet the Press" moderator David Gregory.
Gregory appeared on NBC's Dec 21 "The Tonight Show" and was asked by host Conan O'Brien about the prospects of health care reform becoming a reality - which Gregory praised as some sort of monumental achievement.
"Look, his most ardent liberal supporters think they did compromise too much away, namely the idea of a public option, which was not actually a big part of the campaign but became a bigger force in the world of health care," Gregory said. "This is a big achievement and, whether Sen. Ted Kennedy, who, you know, fought for this for years. This was his issue. And look, going back 60 years, no one has achieved even what they are on the brink of achieving, which is covering 30 million additional Americans, having some real insurance reforms."
The "Meet the Press" moderator wasn't sold on every talking point trotted out by congressional Democrats and members of the Obama administration, specifically that the bill will bend the so-called "cost curve." But he did suggest the process gave the public a glimpse into the sausage-making process of Washington, D.C.
"Does it really cut costs over time? I think that's still an answer that's a lot more murky," Gregory said. "But, this is a big achievement. Look, it underscores a couple things. How hard it is to pass, I mean, this is complex, especially since people don't really understand how the health care system works ‘cause our employers pay for it. We don't pay for it out of our pocket as much if we're covered at work. And it also shows you how Washington works which is always not so pretty."
But that underscored a larger point according to Gregory. This current debate, with one-sixth of the U.S. economy on the line, was a demonstration on how "polarized" things have become in the nation's capital.
"It's also - look, I think it is an incredibly polarized time," Gregory said. "You know, presidents come in, going back to President Bush saying, ‘I want to be a uniter, not a divider and change the tone in Washington.' It is a hard thing to do and I do think it is a serious issue for our country about how paralyzed we are as a country to solve really big problems because we're living in a time of really big problems. Whether it's education, whether it's climate control, whether it's financial stabilization with our financial system, a global system - we've got some very difficult problems and we've got to find a way to make it work."
O'Brien noted he was disappointed not a single Republican would vote for the bill, as did Gregory.
"It's disappointing, but you go back to Social Security, you go back to Medicare - there were a lot of Republicans on board for those votes," Gregory said. "And Washington has changed."