NBC's David Gregory on Sunday accused Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) of not having said publicly if he's for Congressman Paul Ryan's (R-Wisc.) Medicare plan.
This oddly came four days after McConnell and 39 other Republicans voted for the proposal on the floor of the Senate (video follows with transcript and commentary):
DAVID GREGORY, HOST: But, leader, my question is if there's going to be a deal on the debt ceiling on Medicare reform...
SEN. MITCH McCONNELL (R-KENTUCKY): Mm-hmm.
MR. GREGORY: ...would you concede it's got to look a lot different than the Ryan plan?
SEN. McCONNELL: No! I--it's on the table. We're going to discuss what ought to be done. Everybody agrees something ought to be done, except the Democrats in the Senate, who have no plan at all.
MR. GREGORY: But you're not even...
SEN. McCONNELL: We had four...
MR. GREGORY: ...you haven't even said publicly whether you're for the Ryan plan. So you're not behind that version of Medicare reform.
SEN. McCONNELL: I voted for the--I, I voted for the Ryan budget this week.
Did McConnell's answer stop Gregory from pursuing this foolish line of questioning? Hardly:
MR. GREGORY: You didn't whip up your colleagues, though. You didn't try to get additional support.
SEN. McCONNELL: Well, we, we had, we had competing versions in the Senate. Senator Toomey, a Republican senator in the Senate, had a plan. Senator Paul had a plan. The only people who didn't vote for any plan at all--we--by the way, we had a vote on the president's budget, didn't get a single solitary vote. Not a single Democratic senator voted for the president's budget.
MR. GREGORY: Fair--but do you support Ryan's reforms?
SEN. McCONNELL: And the guy, the guy that you're going to have on after me thinks that all we're doing right now is positioning for the 2012 election. What about the country? What about the next generation, not the next election?
MR. GREGORY: I'm just trying to understand where you are particularly on how to change Medicare so...
SEN. McCONNELL: Well, let me tell you.
MR. GREGORY: You're not--you don't believe that the Ryan plan is the basis of where you're going to get agreement.
SEN. McCONNELL: I, I voted for the Ryan budget this week.
So voting for a bill doesn't mean you're actually for it? That's some interesting logic.
Of course, it was obvious what Gregory was doing.
Since Newt Gingrich foolishly called the Ryan plan "right-wing social engineering" on "Meet the Press" a few weeks ago, the media have been trying to convince the public that all Republicans feel the same way.
As such, they've been characterizing Wednesday's vote in the Senate as a major defeat to Medicare reform all because five Republicans joined the Democrats in opposing it. However, four of those so-called Republicans are "in name only," and the fifth was Rand Paul (R-Ky.) who doesn't think Ryan's plan cuts spending far enough.
With this in mind, it seemed no matter how many times McConnell was going to say he voted for the plan, Gregory was going to spin it as though the Minority Leader really opposes it.
In effect, Gregory was just refusing to take "Yes" for an answer.
And that's the way things work on agenda-driven political talk shows these days when "Yes" isn't what the host is looking for.