It’s a sign of how tedious this debate has gotten and how rote the talking points now are that the big takeaway from this, by universal acclaim, is how testy it became at times. Which is too bad: Baier did a nice job, especially in squeezing the soundbite o’ the day out of him on the Slaughter nonsense. The clip will, alas, prove too long for those of you who are busy, so here’s the transcript for your skimming pleasure. A taste:
BAIER: Couple more process things, quickly.
You said a few times as Senator Obama that if a president has to eke out a victory of 50 plus one, that on something as important as health care, “you can’t govern.” But now you’re embracing a 50 plus one reconciliation process in the Senate, so do you feel like you can govern after this?
OBAMA: Well, Bret, the — I think what we’ve seen during the course of this year is that we have come up with a bill that basically tracks the recommendations of Tom Daschle, former Democratic senator and leader, but also Bob Dole, former Republican leader, Howard Baker, former Republican leader. The ideas embodied in this legislation are not left, they’re not right, they are — they are —
But here’s the thing, Bret, I mean, the reason that I think this conversation ends up being a little frustrating is because the focus entirely is on Washington process. And yes, I have said that is an ugly process. It was ugly when Republicans were in charge, it was ugly were in Democrats were in charge.
BAIER: This is one-sixth of the U.S. economy, though, sir. One-sixth.
Give Captain Change credit for having the sheer balls, after spending two years on the trail promising to transform the culture in Washington, to fall back on a “Republicans do it too” defense. Via the Standard, David Brooks must be on suicide watch right now:
Deem and pass? Are you kidding me? Is this what the Revolutionary War was fought for? Is this what the boys on Normandy beach were trying to defend? Is this where we thought we would end up when Obama was speaking so beautifully in Iowa or promising to put away childish things?…
Either this whole city has gone insane or I have or both. But I’m out here on the ledge and I’m not coming in the window. In my view this is no longer about health care. It’s just Democrats wanting to pass a bill, any bill, and shredding anything they have to in order to get it done. It’s about taking every sin the Republicans committed when they were busy being corrupted by power and matching it with interest.
My one knock on Baier is that he didn’t press him on what he and Pelosi have been telling liberals about this being merely the first step in the great remaking of American health care and, by extension, America itself. The whole reason he wanted to go on Fox was to sell centrist Democrats and independents on what a modest, even fiscally responsible plan this is; confronting him about the left’s oft-stated ambitions for single-payer would have blown a hole in that. But oh well. I’ll leave you with this question, my very favorite of the ones he asked: “Monday in Ohio, you called for courage in the health care debate. At the same time, House Speaker Pelosi was saying this to reporters about the deem and pass rule: ‘I like it, this scenario, because people don’t have to vote on the Senate bill.’ Is that the kind of courage that you’re talking about?” Heh.