The end of Congress’s long debate over ObamaCare could be near, as the President pushes for a final vote this week before his Asia trip, and House Democrats want a resolution before next week’s Easter break.
Yet whether or not liberals’ dreams are ultimately realized, they have had a huge advantage throughout the process. Over the past twelve months, journalists have continually stacked the deck in favor of a big government takeover of health care.
New conservative spectator sport: watching MSM liberals lock horns over ObamaCare . . .
Today's Morning Joe offered a hugely-entertaining example. Larry O'Donnell, speaking from the Olympian heights of his omniscience of the legislative process, mercilessly condescended to Donny Deutsch. Ad-man Deutsch had earlier twice "guaranteed" that ObamaCare would pass. When O'Donnell appeared, he in so many words said Deutsch was so blissfully ignorant of the process that he didn't understand just what trouble the bill is in.
When O'Donnell later ostensibly "apologized" to Deutsch, he wound up pouring salt in the wound. Larry patronizingly portrayed himself as having "so much information" about the situation that he just doesn't see it "the same way that people with less information" do.
While conservatives like Mark Levin went to the radio barricades to protest the unconstitutionality of House Rules Committee chair Louise Slaughter just passing over the need for a House vote on the Senate health care bill, the networks stayed quiet last week. It did come up on Thursday night's Countdown on MSNBC.
Lawrence O'Donnell called it the "self-executing rule." I can practically hear Levin yelling "That's right! You liberals will be cutting your own throats with it!" Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein was warming up to the Slaughter solution, suggesting "consistent innovation" is what makes liberalism special:
Back in September, Tom Friedman, speaking of China, proclaimed that "there is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today." That prompted Jonah Goldberg to call Friedman a "liberal fascist," drawing an example from his seminal book, Liberal Fascism, to demonstrate how Friedman's fawning over the Chi-Coms "is exactly the argument that was made by American fans of Mussolini in the 1920s."
But far from being abashed, Friedman is apparently so enamored of his formulation that he has repeated it virtually verbatim. The Times columnist suffered another bad bout of Chi-Com envy on today's Meet The Press, guest-hosted by Tom Brokaw.
Shocker: Times Imagines Racial Stereotyping at CPAC
“How can conservatives win the youth vote that overwhelmingly went for Barack Obama in 2008? At the Conservative Political Action Conference, apparently, some are betting on using racial stereotypes....[Author] Jason Mattera...mocked what he described, with a Chris Rock voice, as “diversity,” including, he said, college classes on 'cyber feminism' and 'what it means to be a feminist new black man.'....Offering up a slogan, he adopted the Chris Rock voice again: 'Get your government off my freedom!' Can we save our generation from Obama zombies, he asked. He answered himself by borrowing the president’s campaign slogan: 'Yes, my brothahs and sistahs. Yes we can!'” -- From a February 18 nytimes.com “Caucus” blog post by reporter Kate Zernike while covering the Conservative Political Action Conference, a post headlined “CPAC Speaker Bashes Obama, in Racial Tones.” Jason Mattera is from Brooklyn and used his own voice, not a “Chris Rock voice,” when making his anti-Obama gibes.
Three years ago, Steve Skvara won the admiration of many in the mainstream media by basically calling for taxpayers to foot his wife’s health insurance. Now he's ba-a-ack! No longer hailed by Chris Matthews or People's Weekly World, he still manages favorable, unquestioning coverage. Today's nwi.com Web site, which bills itself as "the largest and most trusted media company in northern Indiana," carries the article "Health care spark gets a checkup." Written by editorial page editor Doug Ross, the piece starts:
In December, Steve Skvara of Union Township was hospitalized at Northwestern Memorial Hospital for 28 hours in hopes of a clean bill of health. He emerged with a bill for $96,000.
It was pleasant, he said, to have a waiter in a tux deliver his meal, but was that really necessary?
His experience is relevant because it was Skvara who lighted the fuse on the health care debate in which the nation is now embroiled.
It was on Aug. 7, 2007, that Skvara asked the seven Democratic presidential candidates what they would do to get health care to "the woman I love." Skvara explained that he lost much of his pension when LTV collapsed, and he was forced to sit across from his wife at the kitchen table, knowing he couldn't afford her health care.
It was the MSM version of "win one for the Gipper." A manifestly moved Andrea Mitchell told a Dem congressman that with Pres. Obama having put so much on the line for health care reform, "you've got to get this for him."
Mitchell, ostensibly a "correspondent," her voice brimming with emotion, made her heart-felt plea to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) during her 1 PM MNSBC show today.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Bottom line, what happens if you don't get health care for this president is, this is really all-or-nothing for the sense of his power, his legacy, he's invested so much in this, in this first year. You've got to get this for him.
One of the left's knocks on conservatives has been claiming they're demagogues that play on emotion to push a certain point of view. It's been said about Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and the Tea Party movement.
However, HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" host Bill Maher doesn't seem to take issue with using trumped up emotions to push an agenda. The difference - he is approaching things from the opposite end of the ideological spectrum. Maher appeared on MSNBC's March 10 "Countdown" and defended his demand from his own March 5 program that President Barack Obama quit smoking. The reason - so he would get angry and use that emotion to promote his agenda.
"No, what I was - you know, the point of the rule was that when people quit smoking, they get angry," Maher explained. "And I like my president angry, because, you know, considering how much in this country people are poisoned, ripped off and lied to, we should all be angry, but especially that guy, who has to deal with Congress every day in trying to get this health care bill through and all that. And you know, I like him when he's out on the stump in a sort of a partisan mode. I think his biggest mistake, that he has made, in his first year, was to out put bipartisanship ahead of fixing the country. He spent all his political capital on getting three damned votes for that stimulus bill instead of coming in with all the energy from the election and saying, ‘You know what, we're in a crisis mode, I won this election by a sizable mandate, here's what we're going to do. If you don't like it, Republicans, you can suck on it.'"
In an event most likely coordinated with help from the White House, more than 1,000 protesters supporting Obama's radical health care agenda demonstrated in D.C. on March 9, going so far as to attempt a citizen-arrests of health insurance executives holding a conference at a hotel in Dupont Circle.
Covering the story on "Rick's List," CNN's Rick "Down the Middle" Sanchez assured viewers he would "continue to follow this ... and in many ways treat this the same way we treated some of the tea party manifestations. Folks get together, we want to let you know who they are, what their cause is, and who's behind it all."
Well, if so, Sanchez had a lot to live up - or down - to.
Brent Baker recounted how CBS Evening News spotlighted fifth-grade protester Marcelas Owens on Tuesday night. David Shuster interviewed him on MSNBC on Tuesday morning. What neither network shared with the viewer is how Marcelas has become a constant talking point for his home-state Democrat Sen. Patty Murray, and how he is a spokesman for a liberal lobby, the Washington Community Action Network.
"Sen. Patty Murray has told the story of Marcelas Owens dozens of times before, but Thursday she may never have had a bigger audience as she talked of the 10-year-old Seattle boy whose mother died after she lost her health insurance coverage."
...Marcelas, in a statement released by the Washington Community Action Network, thanked Murray for sharing his story with the president.
ABC and CBS on Tuesday night picked up on the cause of a small anti-health insurance industry protest in DC organized by left-wing labor groups, but instead of denigrating them as the networks did with much larger Tea Party and anti-ObamaCare rallies, the two newscasts empathized with their cause, each relaying an anecdote about a victim of the current system. Both ABC’s Jonathan Karl and CBS’s Nancy Cordes did, however, proceed to point out the small profit margin for health insurance companies.
“Taking their cue from President Obama, protesters took their complaints about insurance company premiums and excess profits to the insurance industry and the streets,” ABC anchor Diane Sawyer announced. Karl noted the ideology of the “coalition of liberal groups” and recognized “the attacks are pretty harsh. They're accusing the insurance company CEOs of bribery, money laundering and manslaughter.” But he then showcased “Leslie Boyd, whose son Michael died of colon cancer after he couldn't get insurance or afford a colonoscopy.”
On CBS, Katie Couric set up the story on how “angry protesters targeted the insurance industry.” Cordes found “eleven-year-old Marcelas Owens” who “flew here from Seattle” because “his mother Tiffany lost her job and the health insurance that went with it after a prolonged illness caused her to miss work. She stopped going to the doctor and died at 27 of pulmonary hypertension.” The kid [in the screen capture] delivered a perfect soundbite: “She ended up passing away because she didn't have the equal rights to health care as some people with more money.”
At the top of Tuesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith proclaimed: "President Obama makes a tough final push, going on the offensive against health insurance companies. Will it work?" Later, co-host Maggie Rodriguez gushed: "It looked like a campaign rally yesterday with President Obama center-stage taking his fight for health care reform out of Washington and into America's heartland."
White House correspondent Bill Plante followed up Rodriguez's fawning intro by reporting: "It did indeed look like a campaign. I'll tell you, the President is racing hard to get across the finish line with health care reform. He's trying to convince the public to ignore what he calls 'Washington's obsession with keeping score in politics.'" An on-screen headline read: "Obama on the Offensive; Attacks Insurers In Latest Push for Reform."
Plante ignored the Obama administration's constant political score-keeping and instead lamented how despite the President "taking on the pundits and the political establishment...polls show Mr. Obama has an uphill battle." Plante cited a recent Gallup poll showing 49% of Americans oppose ObamaCare, though failed to point out that only 42% of respondents in that poll favored the plan.
On Thursday, the Early Show claimed that ObamaCare was on the "fast-track" to being passed.
“During the presidential campaign, candidate Barack Obama often used the phrase ‘fired up’ to do just that to the crowd. Democrats have been openly wondering when he was going to bring that campaign energy and fire to an issue like health care reform,” Brian Williams announced at the top of Monday’s NBC Nightly News,” and “today the President chose an event at a quiet Philadelphia suburb to get loud. He made his case and he rallied the troops and now readies to head into battle yet again on this topic.”
ABC’s Diane Sawyer noted “the President made a direct attack on the health insurance industry, accusing companies of putting profits before patient care” -- which means he was just catching up with Sawyer’s agenda. A couple of weeks ago, Sawyer demanded to know who will “keep insurance companies from jacking up premiums while making huge profits?” and touted “the growing outrage at insurance companies, the ones that raise premiums on ordinary Americans while racking up big profits.”
Jon Karl asserted Obama “hopes to tie into some of that Tea Party anger by focusing on a group that the White House believes is even more unpopular than Congress” as Karl championed a far-left group’s upcoming protest with “wanted” posters “that will highlight the CEOs of the health care companies making the argument that they are the ones to blame.”
For the second week in a row George Will gave a much-needed education to one of the media's most beloved liberal economists.
During the Roundtable segment of Sunday's "This Week," Berkeley professor Robert Reich falsely claimed health insurance companies are exhibiting huge profits: "That is money directly out of the pockets of Americans."
Will countered, "[C]onfiscate all the profits of all the health insurance companies, with those profits you could finance our healthcare for 48 hours."
Reich arrogantly responded, "[R]ecipients of health insurance don't know what they are buying very often. Until there are common standards, minimal standards, then people are going to be taken."
This nicely set Will up to drive the ball out of the park, "There you have the premise of this legislation and the core of today's liberalism: the American people are such dopes they can't be counted upon to buy their own insurance" (video embedded below the fold with transcript):
"Saturday Night Live" mocked the entire Democrat establishment last evening taking on President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and healthcare reform.
Fred Armisen playing Obama in a mock address to the American Nursing Association continually referred to healthcare legislation currently before Congress as "surprisingly unpopular."
"Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid have assured me that unpopular though it may be, in the days ahead this bill will be passed by both the House and Senate and sent to my desk for signature," assured Armisen.
"Finally, after decades of effort, we will have real healthcare reform even though, as I have said, it may not be popular. Or viewed favorably by Americans. Or what the people want us to do" (video embedded below the fold with transcript, h/t Story Balloon):
Frank Rich believes Barack Obama is approaching a "do or die moment" and that "we face the alarming prospect that his presidency could be toast" if he doesn't push ObamaCare through. Rich's New York Times column of today, The Up-or-Down Vote on Obama’s Presidency, is a crushing compendium of criticism for a president he sees as talented but too timid.
I'd encourage readers to read the full piece, but let's have fun with this super-condensed version of Frank's frustration-venting:
Sullivan did some number crunching and found that, due to concerns about a lack of a restriction on abortion spending in the Senate bill, Pelosi may end up being a few votes shy of the threshold to pass the legislation.
Sullivan's advice to the Speaker? She just needs to moderate her testy tone to dupe enough pro-life Democrats to voting for a bill that lacks the Stupak amendment which was passed in the House version of the bill (emphasis mine):
Introducing a story on the latest effort pass health care reform on Thursday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez proclaimed: "This morning President Obama is putting health care reform on the fast-track, declaring that it's year-long journey must be completed in Congress quickly."
At the top of the show, co-host Harry Smith had similarly declared: "President Obama says the health care debate is over. He wants a reform bill on his desk in the next few weeks." A Headline on screen read: "Health Care Fast-Track."
White House correspondent Bill Plante reported on the so-called "fast-track" plan: "The President yesterday rejected Republican calls to start over, saying that it is time to make a decision on health care....he made it clear that he's willing to get this done with a legislative maneuver requiring no Republican support." At the end of his report, Plante acknowledged things weren't quite so simple: "this is by no means a done deal....Republicans united in opposition, Democrats wavering because of elections this fall."
What is Katie Couric drinking these days? Who has taken over her body? The CBS Evening News anchor on Wednesday night cited hypocritical positions or actions taken by President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
On the day when Obama pressed forward with using “reconciliation” to pass his health bill in the Senate -- and while MSNBC hosts obsess over Republican hypocrisy in now opposing it when they used it to pass bills when the GOP had the Senate majority -- Couric recalled that “in 2007 when President Obama was a Senator, he criticized the use of the reconciliation process in health care reform.”
Following a story on the ethics violations swirling around Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel which forced him to step down Wednesday as Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, and how additional issues are still being probed, including his failure to report income and pay taxes on a villa in the Dominican Republic, his use of four rent controlled apartments in Harlem and his failure to report $500,000 in assets, Couric remarked:
And yet House Speaker Nancy Pelosi...stood by him for a year. How does that square with her famous promise 'to drain the swamp' and clamp down on ethics breaches?
Why can't President Obama get a health care bill through Congress? Nope, it has nothing to do with the fact that a clear majority of the country doesn't want the federal government overhauling seventeen percent of the economy. The problem is he is just too darn reasonable.
So posits Newsweek's Andrew Romano, who notes that Obama could have gone wholesale-government-takeover on health care and a number of other legislative proposals during the past year. He opted for mandates and regulations rather than single-payer and hundreds of billions of dollars in wasteful stimulus spending instead of a trillion plus.
"Obama has chosen to support what he believes to be the best possible proposal instead of what he believes to be the best imaginable proposal," Romano states. Reasonableness in this context is simply a moderation in the president's march towards statism. He COULD be sprinting towards socialized medicine. Instead, his movement towards government control is more of a leisurely stroll. Unfortunately for the president the American people have rejected that approach as well.
More and more it's becoming clear that when Keith Olbermann takes a night off from "Countdown," and Lawrence O'Donnell fills in for him, viewers are getting the same hyperpartisan, hate-filled Democrat talking points.
Consider the reaction that Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) got from O'Donnell Tuesday evening after the Congressman called the folks at "Fox & Friends" liars earlier in the day.
"Congressman Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York, thank you, thank you, thank you" (video embedded below the fold with transcript and commentary, h/t Right Scoop):
That was the reaction of Newsweek's Sarah Ball to Navy physician Capt. Jeffrey Kuhlman noting ongoing "smoking cessation efforts" by President Obama in a publicly-released memo regarding the results of Sunday's physical exam of the commander-in-chief.
After going over a few takes from other media outlets about the story, Ball shared with readers of the magazine's The Gaggle blog her favorite headline:
But Huff Po's Andy Borowitz wins the Headline Award: OBAMA TO GOP: I WILL QUIT SMOKING IF YOU WILL QUIT BEING DICKS.
On Monday's CBS Early Show, White House correspondent Bill Plante reported on the possibility of Democrats using reconciliation to pass a health care reform bill and noted how Republicans used the procedure when they were in the majority: "In the past it has helped the majority party push through some controversial legislation. In 2001, Republicans used it to pass a giant $1.3 trillion tax cut."
A Media Research Center special report conducted from January 20 to March 31 in 2001 found that out of 94 judgements of the size of the Bush tax cuts on ABC, NBC, and CBS, "84 percent...labeled it as 'big' or 'huge' or otherwise portrayed it as large." CBS was one of the worst offenders, with various reporters describing the cuts as large a total of 14 times in that ten-week period. Then-CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather alone used the word "big" 11 times to describe the tax cuts.
Meanwhile, on Monday's Early Show, Plante did not use the "giant" label to describe the massive ObamaCare legislation, simply referring to it as a "sweeping proposal." According to a Heritage Foundation study by James C. Capretta, the total cost of the bill could add up to $2.5 trillion over ten years.
The Washington Post issued a correction on Saturday in which it apologized for a mischaracterization of the House Republican Whip's use of a printout of the Senate-passed health care bill:
In a Feb. 26 editorial, we said Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) was "posturing" during the Thursday health-care summit by stacking the voluminous Senate bill before him. Mr. Cantor says that he had the bill with him, well-tabbed, not for show but so that Republicans could respond if specific provisions of the bill came up for discussion. That makes sense, and we should not have characterized his purpose as we did.
To emphasize Barack Obama's frustration with what Republicans were saying at Thursday's healthcare summit, CNN aired a montage of the faces the President was making as prominent members of the GOP spoke.
Candy Crowley introduced the segment on Sunday's "State of the Union":
As we mentioned earlier, President Obama's face said a lot last week. I was in the studio where you can watch what which call an ISO, that's the camera focused only on the president as Republicans made their points. We wanted to share.
As you watch, consider how much differently this would have been presented if it was about a Republican President's reactions to what Democrats were saying (video embedded below the fold with transcript):
Quite a contrast in how ABC’s Elizabeth Vargas, taking her turn hosting This Week, approached House Speaker Nancy Pelosi versus Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, all before agreeing with Sam Donaldson when he urged President Obama to become “ruthless” to pass his health care reform bill since that’s what FDR and Truman “would have done.” She affirmed: “That's a good point.”
With Pelosi, she forwarded process questions about whether the Speaker has the votes to pass the health bill and whether it would have been “more helpful for you” if Obama had put up his proposal earlier, pressed the Speaker from the left on the size of the “jobs” bill and empathized with her struggles: “Are you frustrated so many bills have been stalled in the Senate? Almost 300 bills passed by the House that are sitting, languishing in the Senate?” Not to mention cuing her up: “How would you rate yourself in the past year?”
But with Alexander, the 20/20 anchor did not wonder if he’s “frustrated” by Obama’s intransigence as she challenged him to help pass the Democratic health bill, raised presumed Republican hypocrisy and rued the inability of Congress to pass “sweeping” legislation to provide “the changes we need in the country.” She demanded to know if Republicans will “play ball,” pressing: “Why not take what you consider to be an imperfect bill and at least attach some proposals that you support?” Raising GOP opposition to passing the health bill via “reconciliation” in the Senate, Vargas asked: “Why are you so opposed to this given the fact that Republicans have used reconciliation more often than the Democrats in the past?”
George Will Sunday gave New York Times columnist Paul Krugman a much-needed lesson on what happens if ObamaCare is passed.
Krugman wrote a piece Friday accusing Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) of lying at Thursday's healthcare summit about premiums going up if the Democrats' plan is enacted.
During the Roundtable segment of Sunday's "This Week," Will pointed out, "You said in the next sentence in your column, "I guess you could say he wasn't technically lying because the Congressional Budget Office says that's true."
Krugman responded by explaining that even though "the average payments go up," many people will receive better coverage.
To this inanity, Will marvelously asked Krugman if the government forced him to buy a more expensive car, but told him it's not really more expensive because it's a better car, "Wouldn't you tell them to get off your land?" (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, relevant section at 4:30):
Unable to defend ObamaCare with reasoning or facts, many of the Democrats at Thursday's health care summit resorted to anecdotes or, as Rush Limbaugh appropriately characterized them, sob stories. The recycling of a dead woman's dentures and a letter from a struggling farmer who just happens to be the brother of a staffer for the Democratic senator sent the letter were the order of the day.
CNN anchor Rick Sanchez must have found such stories compelling. Yesterday, his producer sent out this tweet from Sanchez's Twitter account:
*FRP* (From Rick's Producer) Today Rick's looking 4 hardship stories: financial, med., trouble w/ (BROKEN?) govt., family, etc Keep short, maybe will read on air
Sadly, Rick didn't get any good denture yarns. But he kicked off his Rick's List program yesterday with a few tales of woe:
As a matter of fact, let's go to the Twitter board. This is what you have been saying about this situation with health care, about these politics and these policies that are being discussed.
Look at this one right there in the middle. "Thousands of people are going broke and dying due to the American health care system. The summit was not a game to be won or lost."
Democrats at the Feb. 25 health summit argued that under their proposal, 31 million of the 47 million uninsured Americans would receive coverage.
CNN's "American Morning" co-host Kiran Chetry repeated that claim Feb. 26 and asked one of her guests: Kenneth Thorpe, Prof. at the Rollins School of Public Health, about its validity and the debate surrounding the statistic.
"I mean there's 47 million uninsured Americans they [Senate Democrats] argue. And when you talk to Republicans, we talked to Sen. John Cornyn yesterday - ‘No, no, no - that's a wildly inflated number," Chetry said.
"If you can't even necessarily agree on who wants and needs health insurance at various stages of their lives, how can you move forward on who is going to get it under the plan?" Chetry asked.