tv Inside Washington PBS August 7, 2009 8:00pm-8:30pm EDT
>> production assistance for "inside washington" was provided by allbritton communications and "politico." >> just say no! >> this week on "inside washington," the health-care debate heats up. are these massine's or democracy at work? >> notion of a grass-roots campaign are completely phony. >> we were taken to a location,
and when we walked through the doors, we saw standing before us, president bill clinton. >> bill clinton postern north korean rescue mission draws mixed reviews. >> this was a propaganda success for kim jong il on the north korean regime. >> the senate approves the sonia sotomayor for the supreme court, with the help of a few republicans. >> i do not believe that the constitution tells me i should refused as a border merely because i disagree with her on some cases. >> congress comes up with another $2 billion to buy your clunker. why stop there? >> how about of the's? -- rv's? captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org--
>> happening all around the country, congressional democrats at town meetings trying to sell the president's health plan and finding themselves shouted down. on the internet, there is doctored video of the president appearing to say that he will eliminate private health insurance. the white house is fighting back on that. >> the people who always try to scare people when you bring them health-insurance reform are at it again. they are taking sentences and phrases out of context and cobbling them together to leave a very false impression. >> linda douglass, the communications director of the white house office of health reform. the white house says there is a viral whisper campaign to kill health care reform, but it is not all whispers. how do disruptors no about congressional town meetings? they can go to web sites like this one, which was the meetings state-by-state. there is a memo that tells you
how to be disruptive. the goal is to rattle the speaker, to get them off to a prepared script and agenda. jeanne, how much of this is going on and how effective is it? >> it has been effective so far, and it amazes me that the white house and the democrats were not ready for it. this the opponent's best opportunity to either water down the bill to kill it. they are seizing the moment. they are pretty effective at it so far. these things have gone a viral on the internet. everybody is aware of them. it has conservatives charge up and ready to go. there's a risk a backlash. there are people who have real concerns about the health care plan that do want to go to town hall meetings, ask hard questions, but don't want to yell at the congressman. those conversations are being disrupted. >> mark, none of this is illegal. >> no, but i think jeanne put her finger on it. the downside of the protesters is that it appears they are
shutting down so that other people, citizens, especially citizens who are residents of the congressional district, don't get a chance. there bussing people in. that does not mask the fact that there are real concerns. the resistance is probably strongest among those who have health insurance. i think that has been the challenge, not only of congress but the administration, to sell them. >> charles? >> well, if you are protesting against the bush administration, like code pink, that is patriotic dissent. if you are protesting against the messiah, then it is a mob. i thought here we are, and administration attacking ordinary citizens who go out and express citizenship by speaking their minds and protesting government policies. it is ironic that this attack on them comes from the
administration led by a man whose first job, as i remember, was community organizer, which, if i understand correctly, is a guy who goes out to ordinary citizens, organizes them to go out and speak their minds and protest against authority. i do find it rather curious. >> evan? >> moms and paranoia are not new, but there is something about american culture encourages you to be as angry as he wanted the incivility is kind of limitless. >> michael steele, the republican national chairman, says that to say this is some sort of cobol is baloney. let me quote the "washington post" columnist steven pearlstein. "they have been some misleading and disingenuous that they can only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. by poisoning the political will,
they have given up any pretense of being a local opposition and have become political terrorists willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems." >> i think we have to be -- i think that is too broad a brush. there is an element of that. i appreciate what crosses saying. code pink does not have a greater reputation. these people don't either pit burning an effigy, horns on the members' faces. those are the people who have taken it too far and those are the people steven pearlstein is talking about. but beneath that, there are real concerns among people about what this means for them, and the democrats have not done a good job of trying to make that case. they only now are getting their act together, and we will see if they can push back against this. i do think that the rebel part of this has overplayed its hand.
>> code pink is not comparable pretty clever on charles, but it is not accurate code pink is a very much of a splinter group, never endorsed by mainstream democrats or leaders. if i could finish while you are interrupting -- that is the first point. the second is that there is an awful lot of misinformation being circulated. there are advertisements saying "why will they cover abortion," which is not in the bill, "but not an emergency appendectomy? why is there euthanasia in?" there is truth squad working done. >> the idea that the republican establishment is endorsing the one or two idiots who carry a swastika or pain horns is absurd. the mainstream of these people, if you look at the town halls,
is ordinary, usually middle-aged people, don't look like terrorists to me, who are expressing themselves. sometimes rudely, and they should not. but the fact is that the polls on the obamacare have gone south ever since july 22, when he held his press conference, long before any of the bible stuff for the town halls. it is because the substance does not hold up, and what killed it is the objective numbers out of the congressional budget office. it was not republicans, it was not the blue dogs. it was the fact that the numbers don't add up. >> it is not holding up because the administration has not been able to define what it is. most people cannot tell you what it is all about. it is extremely confusing. i am regularly confused by it. obama seems to me -- maybe it is too late -- but if there was ever a time for a president to show leadership, it is now, not
just for the public, but with congress. he will have to find a clear way of articulating what he wants. >> he gave himself an hour of prime time in the press conference in which he devoted almost exclusively to health care, and he cannot explain it, as you said. nobody understands what exactly is he doing. >> there is no bill. he stuck to the press conference with the thought that there would be a bill. he thought the senators were closer to compromise than they were. >> it is a time for him to be both ronald reagan in making the case publicly, forcefully, straight forward, simply, and to be lyndon johnson and dealing with members of congress one on one. that is the test that he will either meat or fail within the next few days. >> so far he is neither. he is definitely not a lyndon johnson arm twister. nobody calls him that. >> he does not have a case
because he does not have a plan. >> charles krauthammer, m.d., has a plan. it includes tort reform. lawyers are not going to like that. it also includes the health care benefits tax. >> i believe in universal health insurance, but it is expensive. where is the money? the malpractice insanity, where we ways probably 10% of all costs on defensive medicine, use this treatment, as a way to defend against lawsuits. that is about $200 billion a year. the other places are crazy and efficiency of having the health care links to unemployment, which, if you tax the benefits, you would allow people to own their own insurance as they own auto insurance, and the money could be used to also subsidize people who do not have health insurance.
>> the british and french systems are also built on rising out of what happened in world war ii as well they all have that base. >> politicians simply do not want to go to the public and say things are going to be different for you. all the message is "nothing will change." that will not fix it. until people realize that medical care is not free, and that they do have to pay something for it, then you cannot get from here to there. >> in 2000, the will to help your organization right to the french system as the best in the world, -- world health organization right to the french system as the best in the world, u.s. number 37. >> if you have a fall in st. -,o you want to go to a french
hospital or american hospital? i sure do you want to go to the american hospital but it could be that the cost as a matter of national income is less in france, but our system is inefficient, but the highest quality in the world by far. >> don't the french have higher life expectancy? >> that has to do it habits of life, how you eat, obesity, smoking, infant mortality, which is high in our country. but that is not a medical issue, it is a cultural issue. >> that raises -- evan's and charles' comments raise something we're not talking about, which is that if we are going to do something about the health care system, people have to start living healthier lifestyles. ultimately it is in our own fate. i'm not sure where the evidence is that we will do that. >> politicians will not say that. they never say that you have to
do something different. >> i have heard president obama talked about that. >> they tiptoe around it. they floated the idea putting a tax on junk food, soda, non-diet soda, whatever. that was quickly shot down. the problem the political leadership in the country faces right now, beginning with the white house, is this has always been sold like everything else, the bush plan on prescription drugs, painless, not going to cost you anything people are dying for somebody to say "this is what it is going to cost all of us, what i am asking for everybody, buta russell coverage, and it is going to require individual sacrifices -- universal coverage, and it is going to require individual sacrifices." >> getting at the root of the
financial crisis, it is also part of the health crisis. we need to pay more when we go to the doctor for this stuff. >> whoever steps forward will pay a price politically. >> i think people are dying for candor, i really do. >> candidly or not, you do not want to have this thing about dying cheaply. that is a problem the administration has. >> the past 140 days has been the most heart wrenching time of our lives. we are very grateful that we were granted amnesty by the government of north korea. >> look at this -- bill clinton and al gore, pals again.
the two women work for al gore's current tv network. we have not heard much from former president bill clinton since his wife became secretary of state, but look what people off this week. he delights is network of business and political contacts -- he utilized his network of political and business contacts and flew to north korea to freeze captor journalists. the obama administration wanted to send al gore, but apparently kim jong il wanted bubba. >> look, i commend the president, but it was not his doing grid stuff like this is done completely in advance. it was the white house negotiating through i think it was the swedes' as the intermediary, and it was that kim jong il wanted to have the highest ranking american outside the administration in a photo op to show that he is not a vegetable, and that he is actually active. if you are in a country like that, in which all powers are in
one man and they worry about the stroke you have, showing up with president clinton and speaking and having a dinner with them is extremely important. he wanted it and he got it. it cost him two hostages. >> john mccain says it is a big propaganda success for the north koreans. >> well, it certainly is. they did well by this. but it also is a win-win for us. we got two hostages back alive and well. not only that, we dropped into north korea i four or five really smart people who can look at the place and get some sense of it. we had no intelligence out of north korea. maybe we don't have a lot now, but a little bit more than we had a week ago. >> important for bill clinton to do. >> the criticism of this transaction just kind of
befuddle me, to be honest with you. there seems to be a talking point on many of the conservative side that any negotiations are a reward to the country negotiating with three in spite of the fact that ronald reagan and richard nixon and all the other republicans except george w. bush negotiated with all of our sworn enemies. i do not know where the payoff is for this. kim jong il obviously wanted somebody he could look up to could go clinton met that test by being 1 ft. and a half taller than he was. i think it is a positive, it is good, and for some people, good news is just intolerable. >> wait a minute, it is not all good news. this had to be done and i would have done it. you are right. reagan did it, nixon did it, everybody does it. when hostages are held, you have to pay a ransom. but let us not pretend that it was bought a ransom.
there is a price, and it gives legitimacy to a government like that. there are also hit in prices. we may not know what was promised in advance on fuel aid and food aid agreed we will not know about it if that happens. >> first of all, barack obama showed a certain sense of self and by agreeing that bill clinton, a giant figure, would go and do this. in that sense, it was almost reagan asked -- reaganesque. ronald reagan welcomed them to the white house rather than saying that they violated federal law. >> evan, you spent part of your summer vacation in pakistan, lovely this time of year. what did you find? >> food was actually pretty
good, but the electricity does not work about half the time. the capital feels like a capitol the day before it falls to the streets are empty. -- the day before it falls. the streets are empty. the president's office, there is a blast will build in front of it. it feels like a country on the verge. >> there are reports that the cia may have killed the commander of the taliban, but to the mehsud. -- baitullah mehsud. >> the country is in terrible shape, focused on the jihadists. >> where to use it is headed? >> the united states just desperately keeping it from
imploding to civil war. >> very reassuring, evan, thank you. justice sotomayor. and so the world's greatest deliberative body gives its consent to the first hispanic ever to serve on the nation's highest court, and the third woman. 31 of the senate's republicans voted no, including orrin hatch. >> judging with uncertainty and instability in the law, the result is an activist judicial false philosophy -- activist george as a policy that i cannot support. -- judicial philosophy that i cannot support. >> if you voted for her, at the national rifle association is against you. if you don't -- if you vote against her, you have trouble with hispanic voters. >> john mccain was the biggest surprise for me.
the key was the nine republicans who voted for justice sotomayor. four of them are retiring. i think that in itself is revealing. it remains a concern for republicans who still have a taping problem with women voters, which they last in the last five elections, latino voters, and young voters. >> i would think he would admire person who goes and against his political interest on a matter of principle. there are a lot of voters who are conservative who decided that the democratic standard ought to be applied, and the democratic standard practiced by barack obama as a senator was that he voted against john roberts, who was without a doubt as high-level a nominee as we have ever had, obama posted on grounds of ideology. -- obama opposed him on grounds of ideology. that is how i think the
conservatives have voted. it is going to hurt them with hispanics and women, but i commend them on their acting on principle. >> but i don't think they were acting on principle could i think it would be heading in a partisan way, and both sides have done it now. now we have seen that this will be the pattern for judicial nominations as we go forward. there was a time not that long ago when the nominees could be measured based on their qualifications, and a much more bipartisan vote. the democrats set the stage -- >> started -- it >> with roberts and toledo, and roberts in particular, who was very well qualified. the republicans have copied the same kind of behavior. you'll see this set for some time now, where it will basically be a partisan vote when it comes to judicial nominees. >> the republicans' best hope is
that not many people paid attention this august. >> hispanics were paying attention. the african-american vote is now said, hispanic vote, the largest growing voting population in the country. they have a problem with women, and they are shrinking to a sort of the white male vote, which if you look at all demographics, voting demographics, is really not a long-term plan for them. >> first law of politics is survival. >> i want to make a comment on who announced her assent to the court. having the first hispanic to the court is historic. what is really historic is having a comedian presiding over the senate. that has ever happened before, or maybe it happens every day. >> charles never met george murphy, one of the giants of the
senate, tap danced with officially temple -- tap danced with shirley temple. judd gregg, retiring come from new venture, has voted for every nominee since he has been -- retiring, from new hampshire, has voted for every nominee since he has been there. >> cash for clunkers. first they destroy the engines and then they dragged into a yard and rip out the parts they can sell, and stack them high. this has been working and they ran out of money. congress has come up with another $2 billion. it is a great program if you have a job. if you do not have a job, you cannot buy a new car. >> if you do not have a job, you are right, you cannot do that or a whole lot of other things. but this is clearly a government program run amok with success. it is amazing that they had to put more money into it. but the dealerships are reporting profits.
they are staying open. this is one of the best little stimulus plans they have got going on right now. it is hard to tell whether it is related to the better-than- expected unemployment numbers this month. but it is at least one where they are having the government -- the government is having a real effect on the economy. >> the stimulus stimulus plan is embarrassingly small numbers actually getting into the economy of the $800 billion or so, something like $100 billion. it is mostly money that goes to the states. there is a lot of sterling in washington to produce not much. the economy is still not in great shape. >> well, it works, is popular, it gets gas guzzling cars off the streets. the thing that hits the most of all talking to dealers is that it gets people into showrooms. that is the biggest complaint they have had, that nobody is
coming into showrooms. this work in germany -- this has worked in germany. it is just a successful government program could i know that bothers some people. >> charles? [laughter] >> where do i start? half a minute left, so much error, so little time. a will to one aspect of this. the environmentalists insisted that the cars be destroyed. why? these are unbelievably worthwhile assets that you could sell. if you destroy them, you will have a loss of supply, and used cars and parts, increase in price. if you are a poor person or immigrant who wants a new car, second-hand car, and need parts, price will rise. that is the sacrifice to the earth god by the liberal environmentalists. >> see you next week. for a transcript of this broadcast, log on to insidewashington.tv.