Commentary Magazine


Topic: Bret Baier

Where’s Steve Kroft When You Need Him?

In his State of the Union address last night, President Obama spent much of the early part of his speech savaging the idea of sequestration. In his typically understated way, Mr. Obama referred to the sequester cuts as “sudden, harsh, and arbitrary.” In case he wasn’t clear, Obama also referred to them as “reckless.” And just in case this indictment was too vague, the president said the sequester was a “really bad idea.” 

Which makes this interview between Fox News’ Bret Baier and White House press secretary Jay Carney so delicious. Under Baier’s firm, skillful questioning, Carney is forced to admit that yes, that really bad, terrible, awful, reckless, harsh, vicious, offense-against-God-and-Man idea was … the president’s.  

How terribly inconvenient for Mr. Carney.

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In his State of the Union address last night, President Obama spent much of the early part of his speech savaging the idea of sequestration. In his typically understated way, Mr. Obama referred to the sequester cuts as “sudden, harsh, and arbitrary.” In case he wasn’t clear, Obama also referred to them as “reckless.” And just in case this indictment was too vague, the president said the sequester was a “really bad idea.” 

Which makes this interview between Fox News’ Bret Baier and White House press secretary Jay Carney so delicious. Under Baier’s firm, skillful questioning, Carney is forced to admit that yes, that really bad, terrible, awful, reckless, harsh, vicious, offense-against-God-and-Man idea was … the president’s.  

How terribly inconvenient for Mr. Carney.

What is also worth noting isn’t simply the admission by Carney, but his petulance. The former-Time-journalist-turned-Obama-mouthpiece is clearly very unhappy to be pressed on this matter. Because Mr. Carney, like the president, seems to believe that tough, direct, and respectful questions are a violation of journalist ethics in the age of Obama.

You can just imagine what’s going through Carney’s mind during the Baier interview: Where is Steve Kroft when you need him?

This of course explains why the White House, and the president in particular, has obsessed about Fox News and targeted it so often (full disclosure: I appear on Special Report w/ Bret Baier from time to time). Mr. Obama seems to believe that being cosseted by the press is a basic human right, at least when it comes to him. And given how he’s treated by so much of the press corps, I can understand why.

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Obama’s Inept Aides

Via Mediate, Bret Baier of Fox News, in the most professional way possible, destroys White House press secretary Jay Carney in an interview. Baier did the same thing to President Obama’s chief political strategist, David Axelrod (see here). Chris Wallace tied top White House aide David Plouffe into knots in a recent interview. And Solicitor General Donald Verrilli was, by all accounts, wiped out during the Supreme Court’s oral arguments over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

I realize that we’re supposed to be enormously impressed with the intelligence and skill of this generation’s version of the Best and Brightest. But here’s the thing: these fellows are just not that good. Like the man they work for, they often come across as arrogant and inept, prickly and unable to directly answer questions. It’s a bad combination — and for top Obama aides, apparently, a widespread one.

 

Via Mediate, Bret Baier of Fox News, in the most professional way possible, destroys White House press secretary Jay Carney in an interview. Baier did the same thing to President Obama’s chief political strategist, David Axelrod (see here). Chris Wallace tied top White House aide David Plouffe into knots in a recent interview. And Solicitor General Donald Verrilli was, by all accounts, wiped out during the Supreme Court’s oral arguments over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

I realize that we’re supposed to be enormously impressed with the intelligence and skill of this generation’s version of the Best and Brightest. But here’s the thing: these fellows are just not that good. Like the man they work for, they often come across as arrogant and inept, prickly and unable to directly answer questions. It’s a bad combination — and for top Obama aides, apparently, a widespread one.

 

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Can’t Explain Team Obama’s Positions? Neither Can Axelrod.

Yesterday Bret Baier of Fox News did an interview with President Obama’s senior advisor, David Axelrod. I thought it was a devastating one for Mr. Axelrod.

Now Axelrod may well be a bright fellow for all I know. But he comes across as rather dull and insipid in this exchange. If that judgment seems overly harsh, see for yourself what Axelrod says on the Keystone Pipeline (he blames Republicans for “rushing the decisions”), the failure of Senate Democrats to pass a budget for the last three years (he blamed it on something called the “theater of politics”), and on not returning the $1 million donation by Bill Maher despite his vicious assault on conservative women (he doesn’t really offer an explanation).

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Yesterday Bret Baier of Fox News did an interview with President Obama’s senior advisor, David Axelrod. I thought it was a devastating one for Mr. Axelrod.

Now Axelrod may well be a bright fellow for all I know. But he comes across as rather dull and insipid in this exchange. If that judgment seems overly harsh, see for yourself what Axelrod says on the Keystone Pipeline (he blames Republicans for “rushing the decisions”), the failure of Senate Democrats to pass a budget for the last three years (he blamed it on something called the “theater of politics”), and on not returning the $1 million donation by Bill Maher despite his vicious assault on conservative women (he doesn’t really offer an explanation).

I understand that some decisions are impossible to defend. But one might expect the top political aide for the president to at least offer some serious counterarguments and a plausible defense of his administration’s policies. But we saw none of that. What was on display was a third-rate political hack trying to bluff his way through an interview. It bordered on being embarrassing.

I should add that one cans see how wholly unprepared Mr. Axelrod is for an interview that actually asks of him tough questions. He’s clearly used to being pampered by people like MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, and it shows.

If this interview reflects the precision and professionalism of Team Obama, then this election might be easer for the GOP to win than I had imagined.

It’s clear to me that when it comes to substance and governing knowledge and ability, the president isn’t the only one in over his head; so is his senior political adviser.

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From the Annals of Politics and the English Language

Laura Ingraham, as guest host of the O’Reilly Factor, takes on the Obama administration’s possible ban on the term “Islamic extremism” in our national-security strategy. She does a very nice job of carving up former Clinton NSC adviser Nancy Soderberg, a woman who is both ignorant and tendentious. Over on Special Report with Bret Baier, Charles Krauthammer offers some intelligent and insightful comments on this subject. But I’ll report; you decide.

Laura Ingraham, as guest host of the O’Reilly Factor, takes on the Obama administration’s possible ban on the term “Islamic extremism” in our national-security strategy. She does a very nice job of carving up former Clinton NSC adviser Nancy Soderberg, a woman who is both ignorant and tendentious. Over on Special Report with Bret Baier, Charles Krauthammer offers some intelligent and insightful comments on this subject. But I’ll report; you decide.

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A Wave of Deception

It is only fitting that, as the final votes are garnered for ObamaCare, one last insult to the intelligence of  voters and lawmakers is unveiled. Republicans pressed CBO on how much the bill would cost with the Medicare Doc Fix included. You recall that this measure to increase reimbursement rates to Medicare providers was artificially severed from the bill when it became too difficult (even for the numbers fudgers) to make the books balance with that item in ObamaCare. So it was sent to a separate piece of legislation to be voted on later this year.  This report explains:

Congressional budget scorekeepers say a Medicare fix that Democrats included in earlier versions of their health care bill would push it into the red. The Congressional Budget Office said Friday that rolling back a programmed cut in Medicare fees to doctors would cost $208 billion over 10 years. If added back to the health care overhaul bill, it would wipe out all the deficit reduction, leaving the legislation $59 billion in the red.

When pressed by Bret Baier on the fiscal gamesmanship in separating out the Doc Fix, Obama offered no stellar answer. To be fair, there is none. This is cook-the-books legislating at its worst. The exchange was revealing:

BAIER: And you call this deficit neutral, but you also set aside the doctor fix, more than $200 billion. People look at this and say, how can it be deficit neutral?

OBAMA: But the – as you well know, the doctors problem, as you mentioned, the “doctors fix,” is one that has been there four years now. That wasn’t of our making, and that has nothing to do with my health care bill. If I was not proposing a health care bill, right – let’s assume that I had never proposed health care.

BAIER: But you wanted to change Washington, Mr. President. And now you’re doing it the same way.

OBAMA: Bret, let me finish my – my answers here. Now, if suddenly, you’ve got, over the last decade, a problem that’s been built up. And the suggestion is somehow that, because that’s not fixed within this bill, that that’s a reason to vote against the bill, that doesn’t make any sense. That’s a problem that I inherited. That was a problem that should have been solved a long time ago. It’s a problem that needs to be solved, but it’s not created by my bill. And I don’t think you would dispute that.

Translation: it’s not his fault. Got that?

Well, the issue boiled over on Friday when a purported Democratic strategy memo was leaked that essentially told members and staff to hush up about the Doc Fix. The memo’s authenticity was questioned, but the strategy is plainly right out of the Democratic playbook. As Yuval Levin explains, the hodgepodge of accounting tricks and “keeping the ‘doc fix’ separate from the health-care bills they are getting ready to vote on was key to allowing the Democrats to get a CBO score that seemed to keep the bill from raising the deficit.” It’s a Ponzi scheme of the first order. And they only need a few more votes to pass it.

Throughout this process, we’ve seen in what low regard the president and Congressional leaders hold the public and their own members. The Doc Fix is only the latest and perhaps final insult. But on a brighter note, Minority Leader John Boehner is forcing all members to announce their votes from the floor. How dramatic and transparent! Moreover, it will make for dandy ads against all the Democrats who decided to walk the plank for Obama and Pelosi. You can see them now — all the grainy photos interspersed with big red numbers tallying the addition to the deficit as a voiceover announcer explains it was all an exercise in smoke and mirrors accounting. This is how wave elections are made.

It is only fitting that, as the final votes are garnered for ObamaCare, one last insult to the intelligence of  voters and lawmakers is unveiled. Republicans pressed CBO on how much the bill would cost with the Medicare Doc Fix included. You recall that this measure to increase reimbursement rates to Medicare providers was artificially severed from the bill when it became too difficult (even for the numbers fudgers) to make the books balance with that item in ObamaCare. So it was sent to a separate piece of legislation to be voted on later this year.  This report explains:

Congressional budget scorekeepers say a Medicare fix that Democrats included in earlier versions of their health care bill would push it into the red. The Congressional Budget Office said Friday that rolling back a programmed cut in Medicare fees to doctors would cost $208 billion over 10 years. If added back to the health care overhaul bill, it would wipe out all the deficit reduction, leaving the legislation $59 billion in the red.

When pressed by Bret Baier on the fiscal gamesmanship in separating out the Doc Fix, Obama offered no stellar answer. To be fair, there is none. This is cook-the-books legislating at its worst. The exchange was revealing:

BAIER: And you call this deficit neutral, but you also set aside the doctor fix, more than $200 billion. People look at this and say, how can it be deficit neutral?

OBAMA: But the – as you well know, the doctors problem, as you mentioned, the “doctors fix,” is one that has been there four years now. That wasn’t of our making, and that has nothing to do with my health care bill. If I was not proposing a health care bill, right – let’s assume that I had never proposed health care.

BAIER: But you wanted to change Washington, Mr. President. And now you’re doing it the same way.

OBAMA: Bret, let me finish my – my answers here. Now, if suddenly, you’ve got, over the last decade, a problem that’s been built up. And the suggestion is somehow that, because that’s not fixed within this bill, that that’s a reason to vote against the bill, that doesn’t make any sense. That’s a problem that I inherited. That was a problem that should have been solved a long time ago. It’s a problem that needs to be solved, but it’s not created by my bill. And I don’t think you would dispute that.

Translation: it’s not his fault. Got that?

Well, the issue boiled over on Friday when a purported Democratic strategy memo was leaked that essentially told members and staff to hush up about the Doc Fix. The memo’s authenticity was questioned, but the strategy is plainly right out of the Democratic playbook. As Yuval Levin explains, the hodgepodge of accounting tricks and “keeping the ‘doc fix’ separate from the health-care bills they are getting ready to vote on was key to allowing the Democrats to get a CBO score that seemed to keep the bill from raising the deficit.” It’s a Ponzi scheme of the first order. And they only need a few more votes to pass it.

Throughout this process, we’ve seen in what low regard the president and Congressional leaders hold the public and their own members. The Doc Fix is only the latest and perhaps final insult. But on a brighter note, Minority Leader John Boehner is forcing all members to announce their votes from the floor. How dramatic and transparent! Moreover, it will make for dandy ads against all the Democrats who decided to walk the plank for Obama and Pelosi. You can see them now — all the grainy photos interspersed with big red numbers tallying the addition to the deficit as a voiceover announcer explains it was all an exercise in smoke and mirrors accounting. This is how wave elections are made.

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Desperation Time

James Taranto, like many of us, is trying to decipher what it is that would motivate professional politicians, who’ve succeeded by carefully assessing public opinion and working within legislative and constitutional rules, to behave so bizarrely. Here’s reconciliation! I see your reconciliation and raise you a Slaughter Rule! And so it goes. What’s next? (Perhaps C-SPAN can superimpose a blue dot over the face of floor speakers so as to maintain their anonymity.) Taranto concludes:

What accounts for the relentless drive to ram ObamaCare through every procedural obstacle, regardless of the political cost? Ideological zeal, from Obama himself above all, is part of the explanation, but it isn’t sufficient. One can, after all, be ideologically committed to a goal without falling into a self-defeating obsession.

There seems to be an emotional desperation at work here. The legislative success of ObamaCare has become so tied up with Obama’s sense of himself that he feels he must push ahead–and to some extent, the leaders in Congress feel the same way. Obama is not the calm rationalist he seemed during the campaign. But while there’s a place for passion in politics, to be governed by a politician who fails to govern his passions is a frightening and creepy experience.

Indeed, Obama let on that this frenzy to achieve passage of a hugely irresponsible and politically unpopular bill was in large part ego-driven when he started hounding House Democrats to save his presidency. (He, however, has no interest in saving their congressional careers as he demands that they walk the plank to vote against their constituents’ wishes.)

But should we be surprised? This was the candidate who created a cult of personality, who told us he represented the “New Politics,” who was going to eschew politics-as-usual, and who would be post-partisan, post-racial, and post-ideological. Now he’s a handful of votes away from a humiliating defeat. No wonder it’s desperation time. His possible failure would not be a mere political failure; it would be the obliteration of his own mythology.

Should he squeak it out, Obama’s “victory” would come with a heavy price. Gone is the image of a policy sophisticate (try watching that Bret Baier interview a few times without wincing). Gone is the “moderate” moniker. And gone is the notion that he’d usher in a new era of less contentious and less corrupt politics. (It’s a new era, perhaps, but hardly a better one.) There is no mistaking now the depth of the campaign deception. The public has figured out what he is all about. And increasingly, they dislike what they see.

James Taranto, like many of us, is trying to decipher what it is that would motivate professional politicians, who’ve succeeded by carefully assessing public opinion and working within legislative and constitutional rules, to behave so bizarrely. Here’s reconciliation! I see your reconciliation and raise you a Slaughter Rule! And so it goes. What’s next? (Perhaps C-SPAN can superimpose a blue dot over the face of floor speakers so as to maintain their anonymity.) Taranto concludes:

What accounts for the relentless drive to ram ObamaCare through every procedural obstacle, regardless of the political cost? Ideological zeal, from Obama himself above all, is part of the explanation, but it isn’t sufficient. One can, after all, be ideologically committed to a goal without falling into a self-defeating obsession.

There seems to be an emotional desperation at work here. The legislative success of ObamaCare has become so tied up with Obama’s sense of himself that he feels he must push ahead–and to some extent, the leaders in Congress feel the same way. Obama is not the calm rationalist he seemed during the campaign. But while there’s a place for passion in politics, to be governed by a politician who fails to govern his passions is a frightening and creepy experience.

Indeed, Obama let on that this frenzy to achieve passage of a hugely irresponsible and politically unpopular bill was in large part ego-driven when he started hounding House Democrats to save his presidency. (He, however, has no interest in saving their congressional careers as he demands that they walk the plank to vote against their constituents’ wishes.)

But should we be surprised? This was the candidate who created a cult of personality, who told us he represented the “New Politics,” who was going to eschew politics-as-usual, and who would be post-partisan, post-racial, and post-ideological. Now he’s a handful of votes away from a humiliating defeat. No wonder it’s desperation time. His possible failure would not be a mere political failure; it would be the obliteration of his own mythology.

Should he squeak it out, Obama’s “victory” would come with a heavy price. Gone is the image of a policy sophisticate (try watching that Bret Baier interview a few times without wincing). Gone is the “moderate” moniker. And gone is the notion that he’d usher in a new era of less contentious and less corrupt politics. (It’s a new era, perhaps, but hardly a better one.) There is no mistaking now the depth of the campaign deception. The public has figured out what he is all about. And increasingly, they dislike what they see.

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Numbers

Steny Hoyer notwithstanding, CBO didn’t actually, finally score the bill. CBO says it “completed a preliminary estimate.” Hoyer, of course, would like to lock down wavering Democrats, but CBO cautions: “Although CBO completed a preliminary review of legislative language prior to its release, the agency has not thoroughly examined the reconciliation proposal to verify its consistency with the previous draft. This estimate is therefore preliminary, pending a review of the language of the reconciliation proposal, as well as further review and refinement of the budgetary projections.” Well, if we aren’t exactly going to vote on the bill, then I guess we don’t exactly need a firm CBO estimate.

But there are some numbers that should alarm the fence-sitters. Rasmussen tells us: “Fifty percent (50%) of U.S. voters say they are less likely to vote for their representative in Congress this November if he or she votes for the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats. … 51% of voters not affiliated with either major party are less likely to support someone who votes for the legislation. Just 32% of unaffiliateds are more likely to vote for someone who supports the bill.”

So you can see why Hoyer is so desperate to grab on to a CBO number, anything, to divert members away from political realities and their own nagging sense that this is all a Ponzi scheme. And if you think there’s any doubt about that, consider this exchange between Obama and Bret Baier, where it becomes obvious what a fiscal flimflam is going on here:

BAIER: The CBO has said specifically that the $500 billion that you say that you’re going to save from Medicare is not being spent in Medicare. That this bill spends it elsewhere outside of Medicare. So you can’t have both.

OBAMA: Right.

BAIER: You either spend it on expenditures or you make Medicare more solvent. So which is it?

OBAMA: Here’s what it does. On the one hand what you’re doing is you’re eliminating insurance subsidies within Medicare that aren’t making anybody healthier but are fattening the profits of insurance companies. Everybody agrees that that is not a wise way to spend money. Now, most of those savings go right back into helping seniors, for example, closing the donut hole.

When the previous Congress passed the prescription drug bill, what they did was they left a situation which after seniors had spent a certain amount of money, suddenly they got no help and they were stuck with the bill. Now that’s a pretty expensive proposition fixing that. It wasn’t paid for at the time that that bill was passed. So that money goes back into Medicare, both to fix the donut hole, lower premiums.

All those things are important, but what’s also happening is each year we’re spending less on Medicare overall and as consequence, that lengthens the trust fund and it’s availability for seniors.

BAIER: Your chief actuary for Medicare said this, that cuts in Medicare: “cannot be simultaneously used to finance other federal outlays and extend the trust fund.” That’s your guy.

OBAMA: No — and what is absolutely true is that this will not solve our whole Medicare problem. We’re still going to have to fix Medicare over the long term.

BAIER: But it’s $38 trillion in the hole.

OBAMA: Absolutely, and that’s the reason that we’re going to have to — that’s the reason I put forward a fiscal commission based on Republicans and Democratic proposals, to make sure that we have a long-term fix for the system. The key is that this proposal doesn’t weaken Medicare, it makes it stronger for seniors currently who are receiving it. It doesn’t solve that big structural problem, Bret. Nobody’s claiming that this piece of legislation is going to solve every problem that’s been there for decades. What it does do is make sure that the trust fund is not going to be going bankrupt in seven years, according to their accounting rules —

BAIER: So you don’t buy —

OBAMA: — and in the meantime —

BAIER: — the CBO or the actuary that you can’t have it both ways?

OBAMA: No —

BAIER: That you can’t spend the money twice?

OBAMA: — no, what is absolutely true and what I do agree with is that you can’t say that you are saving on Medicare and then spend the money twice. What you can say is that we are going to take these savings, put them back to make sure that seniors are getting help on the prescription drug bill instead of that money going to, for example, insurance reform, and —

It’s embarrassing, really. And it’s a reminder of why it’s really hard to get members to vote for something that not even the president can adequately justify as fiscally honest.

Steny Hoyer notwithstanding, CBO didn’t actually, finally score the bill. CBO says it “completed a preliminary estimate.” Hoyer, of course, would like to lock down wavering Democrats, but CBO cautions: “Although CBO completed a preliminary review of legislative language prior to its release, the agency has not thoroughly examined the reconciliation proposal to verify its consistency with the previous draft. This estimate is therefore preliminary, pending a review of the language of the reconciliation proposal, as well as further review and refinement of the budgetary projections.” Well, if we aren’t exactly going to vote on the bill, then I guess we don’t exactly need a firm CBO estimate.

But there are some numbers that should alarm the fence-sitters. Rasmussen tells us: “Fifty percent (50%) of U.S. voters say they are less likely to vote for their representative in Congress this November if he or she votes for the health care plan proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats. … 51% of voters not affiliated with either major party are less likely to support someone who votes for the legislation. Just 32% of unaffiliateds are more likely to vote for someone who supports the bill.”

So you can see why Hoyer is so desperate to grab on to a CBO number, anything, to divert members away from political realities and their own nagging sense that this is all a Ponzi scheme. And if you think there’s any doubt about that, consider this exchange between Obama and Bret Baier, where it becomes obvious what a fiscal flimflam is going on here:

BAIER: The CBO has said specifically that the $500 billion that you say that you’re going to save from Medicare is not being spent in Medicare. That this bill spends it elsewhere outside of Medicare. So you can’t have both.

OBAMA: Right.

BAIER: You either spend it on expenditures or you make Medicare more solvent. So which is it?

OBAMA: Here’s what it does. On the one hand what you’re doing is you’re eliminating insurance subsidies within Medicare that aren’t making anybody healthier but are fattening the profits of insurance companies. Everybody agrees that that is not a wise way to spend money. Now, most of those savings go right back into helping seniors, for example, closing the donut hole.

When the previous Congress passed the prescription drug bill, what they did was they left a situation which after seniors had spent a certain amount of money, suddenly they got no help and they were stuck with the bill. Now that’s a pretty expensive proposition fixing that. It wasn’t paid for at the time that that bill was passed. So that money goes back into Medicare, both to fix the donut hole, lower premiums.

All those things are important, but what’s also happening is each year we’re spending less on Medicare overall and as consequence, that lengthens the trust fund and it’s availability for seniors.

BAIER: Your chief actuary for Medicare said this, that cuts in Medicare: “cannot be simultaneously used to finance other federal outlays and extend the trust fund.” That’s your guy.

OBAMA: No — and what is absolutely true is that this will not solve our whole Medicare problem. We’re still going to have to fix Medicare over the long term.

BAIER: But it’s $38 trillion in the hole.

OBAMA: Absolutely, and that’s the reason that we’re going to have to — that’s the reason I put forward a fiscal commission based on Republicans and Democratic proposals, to make sure that we have a long-term fix for the system. The key is that this proposal doesn’t weaken Medicare, it makes it stronger for seniors currently who are receiving it. It doesn’t solve that big structural problem, Bret. Nobody’s claiming that this piece of legislation is going to solve every problem that’s been there for decades. What it does do is make sure that the trust fund is not going to be going bankrupt in seven years, according to their accounting rules —

BAIER: So you don’t buy —

OBAMA: — and in the meantime —

BAIER: — the CBO or the actuary that you can’t have it both ways?

OBAMA: No —

BAIER: That you can’t spend the money twice?

OBAMA: — no, what is absolutely true and what I do agree with is that you can’t say that you are saving on Medicare and then spend the money twice. What you can say is that we are going to take these savings, put them back to make sure that seniors are getting help on the prescription drug bill instead of that money going to, for example, insurance reform, and —

It’s embarrassing, really. And it’s a reminder of why it’s really hard to get members to vote for something that not even the president can adequately justify as fiscally honest.

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Making It Hard for His Side

If ObamaCare passes, it will be in spite of and not because of Obama. Let’s review what he has contributed to the effort in the last day. First, there was his appallingly weak interview with Bret Baier, in which he seemed at odds to explain his own bill. And what “facts” he offered seemed to be made up.

Second, Pew is out with another poll showing the president’s approval dropping to 46 percent. By a 48-to-38 percent margin, voters oppose ObamaCare. A huge 71 percent of those polled say that the cost of health care will go up under the bill. The Center Right coalition is amassing: “Fully 81% of Republicans generally oppose the current bills while 62% of Democrats generally favor them. Far more independents still oppose (56%) than favor (32%) the health care bills.”

Third, Obama once again made this issue all about him. He is now pleading with House members to save his presidency. After all, what is really important here is that he not be disgraced. I’m sure members will be delighted to know that such is the rationale for casting potentially career-ending votes.

Now — all is not lost, of course, for the Democrats. Not by a long shot. CBO has coughed up its scoring, showing that the bill will cost $940B over ten years. Minus the Doc Fix. And with the accounting gimmicks, of course. If a House Democrat was inclined to help the president, this may help give cover. For those who have long stopped buying the funny numbers, this will be a yawn.

So it comes down to this for on-the-fence House Democrats: take one for the team (i.e., to save Obama) or save themselves from the wrath of the voters? We’ll find out if and when they vote, as Steny Hoyer promised, on Sunday.

If ObamaCare passes, it will be in spite of and not because of Obama. Let’s review what he has contributed to the effort in the last day. First, there was his appallingly weak interview with Bret Baier, in which he seemed at odds to explain his own bill. And what “facts” he offered seemed to be made up.

Second, Pew is out with another poll showing the president’s approval dropping to 46 percent. By a 48-to-38 percent margin, voters oppose ObamaCare. A huge 71 percent of those polled say that the cost of health care will go up under the bill. The Center Right coalition is amassing: “Fully 81% of Republicans generally oppose the current bills while 62% of Democrats generally favor them. Far more independents still oppose (56%) than favor (32%) the health care bills.”

Third, Obama once again made this issue all about him. He is now pleading with House members to save his presidency. After all, what is really important here is that he not be disgraced. I’m sure members will be delighted to know that such is the rationale for casting potentially career-ending votes.

Now — all is not lost, of course, for the Democrats. Not by a long shot. CBO has coughed up its scoring, showing that the bill will cost $940B over ten years. Minus the Doc Fix. And with the accounting gimmicks, of course. If a House Democrat was inclined to help the president, this may help give cover. For those who have long stopped buying the funny numbers, this will be a yawn.

So it comes down to this for on-the-fence House Democrats: take one for the team (i.e., to save Obama) or save themselves from the wrath of the voters? We’ll find out if and when they vote, as Steny Hoyer promised, on Sunday.

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Did We Really Condemn the Palestinian Call to Violence?

In his interview with Bret Baier on Fox News yesterday, Obama said: “And what we’ve said is we need both sides to take steps to make sure that we can rebuild trust, and yesterday when there were riots by the Palestinians against a synagogue that had reopened, we condemned them in the same way because what we need right now is both sides to recognize that is in their interests to move this peace process forward” (emphasis added).

But did we really condemn the Palestinian violence? On March 16 (the day to which the president refers), the State Department spokesman had this to say: “As we said yesterday, we are concerned about statements that could potentially risk incitement because we recognize that there’s a great deal of tension in the region right now. Today, you had Hamas say ‘Call for a day of rage.’ This is irresponsible.” No use of the word condemn.

At the White House, Robert Gibbs had this to say: “Well, again, as I said earlier today and as I said last week when asked about this, there are actions that each side takes that hurt the trust needed to bring these two sides together. The State Department reiterated — or I will reiterate what the State Department said yesterday about the deep concern that we have around inflammatory rhetoric around the rededication of a synagogue in Jerusalem. That’s not helpful on that side of the ledger.” And later there was this exchange:

Q: You partially answered this, but Israel claims over the years it’s tried to protect holy sites — Christian, Muslim and Jewish holy sites. Have you ever discussed this with the Palestinians and asked them to refrain from attacks on either people’s holy sites?

MR. GIBBS: We have — I would say — I’m taking this a little bit broader — I would say the types of things that you’ve heard us and, quite frankly, administrations in the past discuss as unhelpful to moving this process along are — is any call for the incitement of violence. Again, I mentioned the State Department — reiterated the State Department’s guidance on what we believed was unhelpful rhetoric around the rededication of a synagogue in Jerusalem as a real-time example of the type of action and rhetoric that is not in any way productive and undermines the trust that’s needed for both of these sides to sit down and directly address their issues and move forward on peace.

So where has the U.S. “condemned” the Palestinian violence? Not in any public briefing or statement so far.

Even if we did hold the Palestinians to the same standard as we do Israel, is a housing announcement concerning the Israeli capital really equivalent to a call to violence? That’s the question being ignored. Israel and its supporters would find such a notion preposterous. The Obami do not. But we’ve yet to see — despite the president’s comments — that they are even willing to extend the same condemnation language to their Palestinian friends.

In his interview with Bret Baier on Fox News yesterday, Obama said: “And what we’ve said is we need both sides to take steps to make sure that we can rebuild trust, and yesterday when there were riots by the Palestinians against a synagogue that had reopened, we condemned them in the same way because what we need right now is both sides to recognize that is in their interests to move this peace process forward” (emphasis added).

But did we really condemn the Palestinian violence? On March 16 (the day to which the president refers), the State Department spokesman had this to say: “As we said yesterday, we are concerned about statements that could potentially risk incitement because we recognize that there’s a great deal of tension in the region right now. Today, you had Hamas say ‘Call for a day of rage.’ This is irresponsible.” No use of the word condemn.

At the White House, Robert Gibbs had this to say: “Well, again, as I said earlier today and as I said last week when asked about this, there are actions that each side takes that hurt the trust needed to bring these two sides together. The State Department reiterated — or I will reiterate what the State Department said yesterday about the deep concern that we have around inflammatory rhetoric around the rededication of a synagogue in Jerusalem. That’s not helpful on that side of the ledger.” And later there was this exchange:

Q: You partially answered this, but Israel claims over the years it’s tried to protect holy sites — Christian, Muslim and Jewish holy sites. Have you ever discussed this with the Palestinians and asked them to refrain from attacks on either people’s holy sites?

MR. GIBBS: We have — I would say — I’m taking this a little bit broader — I would say the types of things that you’ve heard us and, quite frankly, administrations in the past discuss as unhelpful to moving this process along are — is any call for the incitement of violence. Again, I mentioned the State Department — reiterated the State Department’s guidance on what we believed was unhelpful rhetoric around the rededication of a synagogue in Jerusalem as a real-time example of the type of action and rhetoric that is not in any way productive and undermines the trust that’s needed for both of these sides to sit down and directly address their issues and move forward on peace.

So where has the U.S. “condemned” the Palestinian violence? Not in any public briefing or statement so far.

Even if we did hold the Palestinians to the same standard as we do Israel, is a housing announcement concerning the Israeli capital really equivalent to a call to violence? That’s the question being ignored. Israel and its supporters would find such a notion preposterous. The Obami do not. But we’ve yet to see — despite the president’s comments — that they are even willing to extend the same condemnation language to their Palestinian friends.

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