There's really little opportunity for the spirit of bipartisanship to exist when you have a part-time operative for the Obama administration/cable network political commentator throwing bombs about the GOP for not catering to the Obama administration's wishes on health care reform.
"Well, it is kind of preposterous," Begala said. "The Republicans bit is, ‘Well, we'll work on health care if you stop and end and scrap all the progress we've made over the course of a year.' Well no, actually. The health care bill already has 213 Republican-sponsored amendments - 213. And for that they got zero Republican votes. I guess they got one in the House, David [sic - Joseph] Cao."
On Tuesday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric and White House reporter Chip Reid cast President Obama’s push for “bipartisanship” in a favorable light, with Obama “working hard,” “following through on a promise” and “open to ideas from Republicans.” But in an item posted on CBSNews.com, Reid’s fellow CBS White House correspondent, Mark Knoller – who has covered every President since Gerald Ford in the mid-1970s – was far more skeptical: “When a sitting President calls for bipartisanship by the opposition – he really means surrender.”
Knoller painted the President as motivated by frustration: “His top legislative priorities are going nowhere and he’s searching for a way to get them out of lockup.” After recounting past Presidents’ tactical demands for bipartisanship, Knoller outlined the political motive:
It's always nice to see Hollywood pitch in and do its bit for the nation. In WWII, Tinsel Town mobilized to help defeat the Axis powers. Today, the heirs of that proud tradition are going all out against today's forces of evil - medical insurance companies.
At least, that's the impression fans of Fox's "House M.D." got from the show's Feb.8 episode. Detailing a hectic day in the life of Princeton Plainsboro Hospital Administrator Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein), three of the episode's four story lines involved insurance.
In one story line, a former patient was suing the hospital for reattaching his severed thumb. The surgeon who had done it explained that, "his insurance only covered 60 percent of his in-patient expenses," so the patient wanted only the least expensive option. The surgeon reattached it anyway. "I wasn't going to let him throw his thumb away over a few dollars." Owing the money for the procedure to the insurance company, the man protested to Cuddy that he was in danger of losing his house.
In another scene, Cuddy was consulting a patient with cancer was convinced that human breast milk was his only cure. When she refused to write him a prescription for it, he accused her of being "some type of shill for the insurance company." He had paid premiums all this life, he said, and never been sick a day, but was now being denied the only thing that would save him. Cuddy assured him her refusal had nothing to do with insurance, and the scene ended.
CNN’s Jack Cafferty returned to bashing Sarah Palin, one of his favorite subjects of scorn, on Monday’s Situation Room, but also slammed President Obama and top Democrats again for their closed-door negotiations on health care “reform.” Cafferty, along with anchor Wolf Blitzer, poked fun of Palin for writing talking points on her hand prior to her Tea Party Convention speech.
The CNN commentator devoted his regular 5 pm Eastern hour segment to the former Alaska governor. Cafferty sarcastically remarked, “That’s swell,” after noting that Mrs. Palin was considering a run for president in 2012. He continued with more sarcasm: “Palin, who was woefully unprepared to be John McCain’s running mate, acknowledges that she- quote, ‘sure as heck better be more astute on these national issues,’ unquote- than she was two years ago- seriously- and maybe that’s why Palin says she’s started receiving daily political and economic briefings over e-mail from various Washington experts. That ought to do it, right?”
Over the weekend, poor and biased media reporting, dysfunctional politics, blindly ambitious activism, and economic ignorance fed on each other to produce a phenomenally false narrative that went out to hundreds of thousands if not millions of people. The result not only doesn't pass the smell test; it fails the stench test from a mile away.
The first origins of the activist narrative burst forth during Friday's PBS News Hour, when the network's Betty Ann Bowser opened her report on health care costs with two sentences that belong in the Sloppy Statement Hall of Shame (bold is mine):
Health care spending devoured 17 percent of the entire economy last year, about $2.5 trillion. That's the biggest one-year growth since record-keeping began in 1960, according to projections from the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, this week.
If you don't mind my asking -- What exactly is the "that" to which Ms. Bowser referred?
It's the central question of the health care debate to liberty-loving Americans: Where in the Constitution does our charter of government grant the federal government the power to make us buy health care (or make us buy anything, for that matter)?
But to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it's an illegitimate question. "Are you serious?!" she shot back at a CNSNews.com correspondent Matt Cover. Pelosi is not alone. Her friends in the liberal media also find the question ludicrous.
So Media Research Center video producer Bob Parks worked up a brief video that showcased how many in the liberal media see no constitutional problem with federal mandatory health care insurance.You can watch the video in the embed at right.
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith introduced a bizarre story designed to show how desperate the situation is for people lacking health insurance: “A California woman has launched a unique online search for a husband. Not for love, but for health care.”
Earlier, co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased the story by proclaiming: “I don’t know if you would think it’s sad or if you would think it’s admirable – but it’s definitely a position no one wants to be in. It’s an extreme to get health insurance.”
Correspondent Randall Pinkston later reported on the situation:
45-year-old Terri Carlson says she does not care what you look like, she will marry you, but only if you have good health insurance....She is divorced and has one year left under cobra health coverage, but after that, she will have nothing to help pay for numerous doctors’ appointments and dozens of medications....[she] suffers from a rare genetic disorder....And because of her disorder, insurance companies have denied her coverage.
When Maine Republican Olympia Snowe backed aspects of health care reform early last fall, CBS’s Nancy Cordes cheered the "rebel Republican." Now that Snowe is sounding a tougher, more skeptical tone on the legislation, how will journalists treat the moderate Senator?
Appearing on Thursday’s edition of On the Record, host Greta Van Susteren asked Snowe if health care was dead. She bluntly replied, "I think that this particular legislation. I think its going to be very difficult to reach an agreement even within, I think, the Democratic caucus in both the House and Senate to accept this legislation one way or the other."
The Washington Post launched an interactive page this week to profile President Obama's record on his campaign promises after one year in office. The Post put promises into three categories: "To Do," "In Progress" and "Completed."
Based on the president's record, most people would be surprised to learn the Post put most of the promises in the "In Progress" category -- and didn't even include a "Broken Promises" category. Many recent promises made as president would belong in that category.
"In Progress" according to the Post includes "reversing" the Bush tax cuts, while the "To Do" list includes "enact a windfall profits tax" on oil companies.
James Valvo, government affairs manager for Americans for Prosperity, offers the following additions to the Post's analysis:
Previewing the State of the Union on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith spoke with former White House Communications Director Anita Dunn, who claimed the GOP “made a decision a year ago that they weren’t going to cooperate on anything.” Smith replied: “I don’t think you can say what you just said and look at what happened with health care, especially in the last month, and be honest about it.”
Dunn, who just recently stepped down as communications director to the Obama White House, disregarded Smith’s challenge:
Harry, I disagree with that, mostly because I was working at the White House for most of this time. And I saw how many meetings with Republicans, how many attempts to reach out, how much time was spent listening to their concerns. An entire summer spent giving a lot of room to a bipartisan process which ultimately Republicans walked away from, even as their leaders from day one announced that they were going to kill health care no matter what was in the bill.
The liberal meltdown as a result of the last week's election in Massachusetts continues apace.
And the latest victims of the Bay State choosing Republican #41 for a Senate seat are the editorial staff of The New Republic. Anybody who follows The New Republic, such as your humble correspondent who has kept the NewsBusters Eye of Sauron focused on that liberal outpost knows they are a bunch of policy wonks who have spent the better part of the past year obsessed over every arcane detail of ObamaCare as well as closely following its passage in its various versions through the House and Senate. In fact the two New Republic Jonathans, Chait and Cohn, are so emotionally invested in the fate of ObamaCare, that I fear for their mental health should that legislation, as now appears likely, fails to pass.
You want an example of how depressed The New Republic has become on the topic of the Obama presidency? Well, just check out this meltdown money quote from their latest editorial:
How does this president handle a crisis? Thus far, the answer is not at all encouraging. The current crisis is the election in Massachusetts of Scott Brown, now the forty-first Republican senator. His arrival in Washington has sent Democrats into panic mode--fearful that they too will be swallowed by a seething electorate--and caused many of them to flee in the other direction from health care reform. In short, Barack Obama faces a moment where his presidency just might collapse or, rather, risks heading into a wilderness where it would accomplish next to none of its ambitious goals.
It seems that few if any events in political history has caused such a rapid meltdown among the media and the Democrats as last week's election of Scott Brown as senator from Massachusetts. And a prime example of the many meltdowns now happening is an off-camera exchange between Ed Schultz of MSNBC and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs in which Big Ed told the latter that he was "full of sh*t." Here is Schultz describing the encounter in this video:
I know it’s being recorded, but I wasn’t told it was off the record but Mr. Gibbs and I had quite the conversation off the air the other night. And I’m gonna tell ya, I told him he was full of sh*t is what I told him. I mean I did. And then he gave me the Dick Cheney f-bomb the same way Sen. Leahy got it on the Senate floor. So I told Robert Gibbs, I said, and I’m sorry you’re swearing at me but I’m just trying to help you out. I’m telling you you’re losing your base. Do you understand that you’re losing your base? And that the American people, they don't want public option. The American people want single payer.
Diane Sawyer's interview with President Barack Obama wasn't nearly as sycophantic as the one conducted last Wednesday by George Stephanopoulos, with Sawyer posing mostly informational inquiries about the direction he'll set out in the State of the Union speech as she also raised the huge deficits and whether all future meetings about health care will “be on C-SPAN” as he had pledged?
But she presumed some of the anger at him wasn't his fault -- “People think you must say at the end of the day, this is not who I was in 2008, these deals with Nebraska, with Florida” -- and empathized with the “buzz saw bruising” he gets, so: “Ever in the middle of all that's coming at you, do you think maybe one term is enough?”
In a second segment aired at the end of Monday's World News, she wondered whether he favors the Colts or Saints in the SuperBowl (Saints) and “what's been the most important and useful thing” Michelle Obama has “said to you?” (Help Sasha with basketball shots.) In her “if you were a tree, what kind would you be?” moment, a beaming Sawyer held up photos of Obama at the inauguration and his first congressional speech and wondered: “What would you say to him?” (Obama: “You're going to look older in a year.”)
With the exception of George Will, the panel on ABC’s This Week (hosted by Terry Moran) roundtable insisted Scott Brown’s Massachusetts Senate seat victory was less an anti-liberal or anti-Obama vote than simply a “pox on both your houses “and “throw the bums” out choice when Democrats happened to be in power. (On Face the Nation, Nancy Cordes described Brown as a “true Republican moderate” and dreamed he “could make being a moderate cool again.”)
Cokie Roberts and Sam Donaldson also contended people really want ObamaCare and so the White House, Donaldson asserted, should have pushed it more “vigorously” and he despaired that “Republicans were able the make the idea that being on a government health program is terrible. How absurd.”
ABC News veteran Roberts declared of Brown’s win: “I think it's much more the process than the substance” as voters said “‘a pox on both your houses. You know, we don't like any of you guys’” since “when you ask which party do you trust more with various issues, the Republicans do worse than the Democrats. So it's not a Republican tide, but it is a ‘throw the bums out’ tide.”
The retired ABC newsman Sam Donaldson echoed it was “throw the bums out” and “the bums at the moment happen to be in. They're the Democrats. And, therefore, I don't care what your name is, or how much experience you have or don't have, or what your positions are even. You're the other guy.” Former George W. Bush campaign chief Matthew Dowd agreed “it wasn't a Republican victory. It was a victory for an outsider.”
Quip of the day, from columnist Charles Krauthammer on Friday's (January 22) Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC. Baier wondered: “Conservatives, pretty good week?” Krauthammer affirmed:
You know, this is an amazing week. Massachusetts goes Republican, health care dies and the Supreme Court unshackles the First Amendment. It's the best week I've had since spring break in medical school -- and I don't even remember it [laughter from other panelists].
And there was another item which you mentioned: Air America, the liberal talk show network went out of business -- which is a redundancy because nobody was listening anyway.
CNBC "Squawk Box" co-hosts Joe Kernen and Becky Quick get it. Unfortunately, their CNBC colleague that covers Washington, D.C. for the network doesn't.
On the Jan. 22 broadcast, Harwood appeared on the program to give a status report on the current version of health care reform being negotiated in Congress and what it means in the aftermath of Scott Brown's filibuster-proof busting election victory in Massachusetts on Jan. 20. Kernen suggested that the health care bill might have been forced through if not Brown's election and the public fervor it revealed.
"I think it's unbelievable that it would have gone through and they would have definitely jammed it through if this weird, serendipitous seat hadn't opened up and if there hadn't been a special election, 17 percent of the economy - based on what they wanted to do, based on what these elected officials wanted to do, against what the public wants - they would have just rammed it through, either way," Kernen said.
Speaking to former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith repeated standard liberal talking points as he urged Republicans and Democrats to quickly pass some form of health care reform: “...to help the 40 some million that don’t have insurance or the vast majority of other folks who are one medical catastrophe away from bankruptcy.”
Dean replied by lamenting how: “The President’s tried awfully hard to get even one Republican to support this.” He added: “They believe if they obstruct this agenda that they can benefit from it and I think that’s wrong for the country, but the Republicans have always been great at opposition, never very good at leadership.”
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Americans were treated to a number of populist sermons on the "special interests" who would oppose "reform" at any cost to maintain the "status quo" from which they "profit financially or politically." The drug companies, the energy companies, the Wall Street bankers, and the health insurers were the corporate enemies of a just and harmonious America, or so one might have gathered.
Obama was at the vanguard of this populist charge. But since his election, he has proposed health care legislation that would subsidize Pfizer and PhRMA, a cap and trade plan that would drive profits to General Electric, and Wall Street bailouts that lined the pockets of the same Goldman Sachs bankers he so reviled during the campaign. What happened?
Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney exposes and investigates this monumental disconnect in his new book "Obamanomics: How Barack Obama is Bankrupting You and Enriching His Wall Street Friends, Corporate Lobbyists, and Union Bosses." Carney explores the "political strategy of partnering with the biggest businesses in order to create new regulations, taxes, and subsidies." Those measures, he argues, actually benefit the biggest businesses by crowding out competition, consolidating market share, or giving billions in subsidies directly to those companies.
On Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith introduced a segment on the future of ObamaCare in the wake of Scott Brown becoming the 41st Republican senator: “Democrats are trying to figure out their next move after Tuesday’s stunning loss of Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat. The big question continues to be what will it mean for President Obama’s agenda? Especially health care reform.”
In the report that followed, White House correspondent Chip Reid described how: “The President says he still wants Congress to move forward with reform, but in an orderly way.” Citing political analyst and executive editor of The Hotline, John Mercurio, Reid declared that: “not passing health care would be devastating for Democrats.” Mercurio added: “I think without that, they satisfy no one and they discourage a lot of their base voters from turning out in November.”
Following Reid’s report, Smith conducted an exclusive interview with Senator John McCain, asking: “Is health care...as the Democrats understand it right now, is it dead?” The headline on-screen read: “Capitol Hill Chaos; GOP Victory Could Halt Health Care Reform.”
The super-sized, take-out-a-second-mortgage-to-pay-for-it bushel basket of movie popcorn just might not be big enough. War is breaking out among liberals, and the entertainment value might make Avatar look like a test signal.
Just make yourself comfortable, sit back, and watch Chris Matthews and Howard Dean go after each other on this evening's Hardball. Dean was floating the absurd argument that by choosing Scott Brown over Martha Coakley, voters were sending a secret coded message that they really wanted a health care bill . . . more liberal than the current Obamacare version.
Matthews calls Dean out on his lack of logic, and the pair wind up trading accusations of craziness.
The day after President Barack Obama's policies were rebuked by the voters of one of the most liberal states when Massachusetts picked a Republican to replace Ted Kennedy, the White House turned to former Democratic operative George Stephanopoulos as their preferred vehicle to forward their spin as Obama sat down for an interview with the ABC News journalist.
An accommodating Stephanopoulos, in the excerpt run on Wednesday's World News, failed to consider Obama's policies were too liberal as he asked the chastened President to confirm he was “surprised and frustrated by the vote” and to agree “this has been about the most packed year of your life” and “the most fulfilling?” Obama, naturally, concurred with the puffball inquiry.
The toughest Stephanopoulos got was to advance the notion Obama was a victim of his own ambition: “In your inaugural address, you said then, 'there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans.' Looking back now, don't those critics have a point?” Stephanopoulos also cued up Obama with an informational request: “ What is the strategy on health care going forward? A lot of people have talked about getting the House to pass the Senate bill.”
A small group of liberal talking heads may be realizing that opposition to Obama is not, in fact, wholly irrational. Though it would be a bit too hasty to proclaim it a trend among the mainstream media, it has been a refreshing break from the smears usually hurled at the right by the nation's pundits.
First was Chris Matthews, who stunningly turned right and voiced his concern about an excessively large federal government, as Noel Sheppard reported this morning. NBC's David Gregory also came to his senses today, and admitted--his prior statements notwithstanding--that the Tea Party movement has been advocating the same principles that led to Scott Brown's victory yesterday (h/t Mary Katherine Ham).
Speaking on this morning's Morning Joe, Gregory characterized yesterday's special election as a sincere populist backlash against unpopular policies. The election was "about incumbency and whether government's working for you," he said. "That's what really cuts through all this is whether government is working for the people. That's what's fueling the Tea Party movement."
CNN’s Carol Costello reminisced enthusiastically about President Obama’s inauguration a year ago on Tuesday’s American Morning, highlighting how, at the time, “the hearts of millions of Americans were ready to burst- with a Woodstock kind of love.” Costello also took a shot at Republicans, stating that they “used the President’s strategy [on health care] to create fear and confusion among voters.” [audio available here]
Anchor Kiran Chetry set the gushing tone for the correspondent’s report, which aired at the bottom of the 6 am Eastern hour: “It was a year ago that love was in the air. America seemed to come together behind the nation’s first African-American president.” Costello lead the segment with footage of the enthusiastic crowd at the inauguration and her reporting inside the crowd, accented with a graphic of President Obama’s head inside a beating Valentine’s heart and Cupid’s arrow: “Inauguration Day, January 20th, 2009....The hearts of millions of Americans were ready to burst- (unidentified women singing) with a Woodstock kind of love.”
The day after the Inauguration, during a January 21, 2009 report on CNN, Costello dubbed the festivity “a gigantic love fest,” and gave an enthusiastic account about her time with the masses on the National Mall: “Suddenly, someone would just come up and hug you. It was just amazing. It was -- it was like you were standing in the middle of these strangers, and all of a sudden, you had a million friends around you. That’s what it felt like yesterday.”
Speaking to political analyst John Dickerson on Wednesday’s CBS Early Show about Republican Scott Brown winning the Massachusetts Senate race, co-host Maggie Rodriguez lamented: “When it comes to health care, I think it’s so ironic that the late Ted Kennedy’s passion was health care. He dedicated his career to it. And the man who will replace him could be the one to derail it.”
Rodriguez wondered: “Do you think that’ll happen? Do you think that Senator Brown will be seated in time to vote no?” Dickerson replied: “I think so. It looks like there’s not any appetite to try and rush something through quickly. Health care is already unpopular in Massachusetts and across the country. It’s a very tricky thing indeed to take an unpopular bill and then sort of sneak it in through this back door way. So that’s politically too painful.”
Interestingly, Rodriguez’s concern over Kennedy’s health care legacy was almost identical to a question NBC’s Meredith Vieira asked Senator-elect Brown on Wednesday’s Today: “...you plan to do whatever you can to derail what Ted Kennedy called, called ‘the cause of his lifetime,’ which is health care reform?”
Few liberals have been more insistent on the inevitability of ObamaCare than The New Republic editor Jonathan Chait (along with his TNR colleague Jonathan Cohn). He is stubbornly clinging to the notion that ObamaCare can be a done deal despite the results of yesterday's election in Massachussets giving Republicans the 41st vote to block it in the Senate. To give you an idea of how far Chait has gone off the deep end, take a look at his money quote on the topic of liberal Democrats who consider the Mass. election a referendum on ObamaCare in his ironically titled column, Mass Hysteria:
Still, it's fairly amazing to me to see the Democrats reacting with such hysteria. It's not just moderates trying to position themselves to the center. Barney Frank and Anthony Weiner are acting like pathetic, emotional cowards. They seem to think that one very attractive candidate beating a hapless foe amounts to a national referendum to which every other member of Congress is bound.
NBC's Meredith Vieira, on Wednesday's Today show, rained on Scott Brown's parade as she wondered if the Senator-Elect's post-victory call to Ted Kennedy's widow Vicki was an awkward moment since, as the Today co-anchor pressed, "You plan to do whatever you can to derail...the cause of his lifetime?"[Audio available here]
MEREDITH VIEIRA: You know on a personal note, you said last night the first call you made after your victory was to Ted Kennedy's widow, Vicki.
SCOTT BROWN: That's right.
VIEIRA: How comfortable was that for both of you, knowing that you plan to do whatever you can to derail what Ted Kennedy called, called "the cause of his lifetime," which is health care reform?
We don’t yet know the outcome of the Jan. 19 Massachusetts Senate special election. But the very fact that the Democrats could lose the seat formerly held by Sen. Ted Kennedy to a conservative who’s made blocking healthcare reform a centerpiece of his campaign, has liberals sputtering implausible explanations.
On Jan. 19, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and liberal radio host Nancy Skinner appeared on CNBC with Larry Kudlow to discuss the ramifications of the election for healthcare. Both suggested that Democrat Martha Coakley was in danger of losing to Scott Brown is because Democrats hadn’t been liberal enough on health care.
Although he predicted Coakley would hold Brown off, Dean said, “Let me agree with something Larry said (far be it from me to ever do such a thing). But I do think this is clarity – about clarity of message and I think the Democrats haven’t had a clear message.”
The problem, from Dean’s perspective, was that compromise had watered down and complicated the health care bill. “Look at what we’ve done. We’ve passed this health care bill, which has, you know, just been a very messy, ugly process – or we’re about to pass a health care bill,” he said, predicting it would pass with or without a Coakley victory. “The best way to [have a bill that works and can refute GOP arguments] was to pass an extension of Medicare to people below 65. Everybody knows what Medicare is, it’s easy to understand, you don’t have to make deals with the health insurance industry. So this is about clarity of message, and Scott Brown has a clear message and the Democrats don’t.”