Obama: Vitriol On Health Proposal Is ‘Proxy’ For Other Issues
To advocate for his health care proposal, President Barack Obama taped interviews with five Sunday talk shows (CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, Univision) and each was allowed to use one excerpt before the programs are broadcast.
Wall Street Journal: The president, who is promoting his health-care overhaul, answered a broad range of domestic and foreign-policy questions Friday from star television anchors who were shuttled like so many delivery men through the halls of the West Wing. ... While the questions may have been wide-ranging, most of the excerpts focused on one question: whether opposition to the president in the health care and other policy debates was based on his race. The White House's oft-stated position: not entirely (Williamson and Pulizzi, 9/19).
ABC News published a text and video excerpt of George Stephanolpoulos' interview for 'This Week':
STEPHANOPOULOS: "Does it frustrate you when your own supporters see racism when you don't think it exists."
OBAMA: "Look I think that race is such a volatile issue in this society, always has been that, uh, it becomes hard for people to separate out race being a sort of part of the backdrop of American society versus race being a predominant factor in any given debate. And what I've said, when we talked during the campaign, are there some people who don't like me because of my race? I'm sure there are. Are there some people who voted for me only because of my race? There are probably some of those too. The overwhelming part of the American population, I think, is right now following this debate and they are trying to figure out, is this gonna help me. Is health care going to make me better off? Now there are some who are, setting aside the issue of race, actually I think are more passionate about the idea of whether government can do anything right. And I think that that's probably the biggest driver of some of the vitriol." (9/18).
Politico: "Obama sought to portray the opposition as a true difference of opinion about the role of government. 'I think that what's driving passions right now is that health care has become a proxy for a broader set of issues about how much government should be involved in the economy. Even though we're having a passionate disagreement here, we can be civil to each other. And we can try to express ourselves acknowledging that we're all patriots, we're all Americans, and not assume the absolute worst in people's motives,' Obama told Bob Schieffer, host of CBS's 'Face the Nation.' 'I do think that part of what's different today is the 24 hours news cycle. And cable television and blogs and all this they focus on the most extreme elements on both sides. They can't get enough of conflict. It's catnip to the media right now. So the easiest way to get 15 minutes of fame is to be rude to somebody," Obama added" (Javers, 9/19).
Los Angeles Times: "In an interview with CBS News, he dismissed skeptics who think higher taxes are inevitable to support his healthcare overhaul. He reiterated that he will not accept any proposal that imposes new taxes on people making less than $250,000 a year" (Silva, 9/19).
The Washington Post: "White House advisers firmly believe that more Obama is better. There is little question that his prospects for health-care reform appear somewhat better now than they did in August, when the president kept a lower profile and went on vacation" (Kornblut, 9/19).
Meanwhile, The Associated Press reports that "Republicans say the Obama administration's attempt to overhaul the health system will lead to government-run British- or Canadian-style health care that causes delays in treatment, threatening Americans' health and even worse. Rep. Sue Myrick of North Carolina issued the latest warning against a Democratic-backed health care overhaul as she recalled her fight with breast cancer. She said in the Republican weekly radio and Internet address that her diagnosis 'took six doctors, three mammograms and one ultrasound before they finally they found my cancer. This process took only a few weeks. Under the government-run health care system they have in Canada and the United Kingdom, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to get those tests so quickly,' she said" (9/19).