As Jay and I have pointed out, by the time Election Day rolls around, most voters probably won’t care much what procedures or sweetheart deals Democrats employed in their efforts to pass health care reform. Democrats are more likely be judged by the generic measure of whether they were for or against health care. (This is assuming health care is the defining issue in the congressional elections this fall.)
But yet, Bret Baier – the lucky Fox News personality who was granted an exclusive sit-down with the President today – spent about 80% of the health care section of the interview asking Obama about process. This is not surprising, but it’s still worth pointing out. Baier said Fox News viewers e-mailed in 18,000 questions for the President, then implied that most of them were about the special deals for certain states contained in the Senate bill and about the “self-executing rule” House Democrats may use to take health care reform over the finish line.
To be fair, anyone who interviewed Obama today would have asked about process – and probably even the “self-executing rule.” Baier asked if Obama supports the procedural tactics House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is considering? Fair question. Obama implicitly answered yes, saying he doesn’t get hung up on procedure. Which sweetheart deals that are in the original Senate bill will be stripped out by the House package of “fixes”? Another fair question. But on this one, Obama started to answer, but Baier – later saying he was trying to “get the most for our buck here” – cut the President off. Check it out:
Watching Beier interrupt the President off made the interview jarring to watch. I also think it’s silly to spend the vast majority of an interview segment on health care asking questions about a procedure Republicans used when they were in power. But I give Fox News credit for not letting Obama turn the interview into an infomercial for Democratic health care reform. Aren’t we all a little tired of those?
Beier: 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?
BAIER: Do you know which specific deals are in or out, as of today?
Good question. (I ask again, Speaker Pelosi, where is the CBO score and the final text of the changes you want to make to the Senate bill?)
The whole video is not posted yet, but the full interview transcript is here.