Daily Howler logo
WE KNOW WHAT HE SAID LAST SEPTEMBER! Orrin Hatch had a very long list of complaints. Until Rachel Maddow played you: // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, MARCH 8, 2010

Why not look over there: Boy, are we sorry we ever posted our eight (or twelve) favorite movies, along with four others which lurk! As a distraction, why not get mad at Dennis Hartley over at Hullabaloo? He presented his list of the ten best winners of the “Best Picture” Oscar.

Just kidding. That said, we’ll add this to Dennis’ comments:

Dennis says this about Annie Hall: “It’s easy to forget how wonderfully innovative and fresh this film felt back in 1977.” We’ll mildly disagree. We watched Annie Hall a few months ago, and it happened again! We are struck, pretty much every time, by how fresh and innovative its humor (and self-parody) still seem today.

For ourselves, we’ll transfer Dennis’ comment to another of his picks, In the Heat of the Night. For our money, this movie is a bit too much like a Mannix segment to achieve full-fledged “high art” status. But for younger people, it may be hard to imagine how thrilling it was as racial commentary when it appeared in 1967. Dennis cites Poitier’s famous line from the film, but Rod Steiger’s line was thrilling too. “I ain’t no expert,” he finally says to Poitier (who is). Steiger thus portrays a sheriff who is, at long last, prepared to relinquish presumed racial authority.

Tragically, that was thrilling stuff in 1967. We think we went five or six times.

Dennis linked to this full list of past winners. There are quite a few dogs in that hunt!

WE KNOW WHAT HE SAID LAST SEPTEMBER (permalink): It’s hard to know why Democrats ever thought they could win Republican support for reform.

Back in September, almost six months ago, Andrea Mitchell interviewed Orrin Hatch about health reform plans as they then existed. The night before, President Obama had addressed a joint session of Congress. Questioned by Mitchell, Hatch rattled off a long list of complaints about Obama’s health proposal—about “the so-called plan that he's talking about,” as Hatch quickly put it. His list was as long as your arm:

HATCH (9/10/09): Well, he made the point that about 80 percent of what they're talking about we probably could agree on. But it's the 20 percent where all the money is where we have a lot of disagreements.

For instance, he was saying, basically, that they're going to have a public plan, one form or another, that they're going to have an employer mandate, and see, I have a lot of problems with that because with an employer mandate, the employers are penalized if they don't provide health insurance. Guess who is going to get hurt the worst? It's going to be the low-income employees that are either going to be cut back on their salaries, lose their jobs or the companies are going to go overseas.

And then he says we're going to have an individual mandate. He said there would be no tax increases. Give me a break! Families earning $66,000 a year, if they don't have health care, they're going to get assessed $3800. That's a tax whether you like it or not. And you can go on and on, you know, he's not going to—they're going to move people into Medicaid. One of the big goals of the Democrats, at least in all the bills that I've seen so far is to move as many people into Medicaid as they possibly can and thus go towards a single-payer system that way.

And look, Medicare, you know, they're not going to do anything to hurt Medicare? My gosh, they're going to take $130 billion out of Medicare Advantage, which most seniors really like, especially in the rural areas. And there's only one reason they're doing that in my opinion and that's because they consider it a Republican part of the original Medicare Modernization Act.

Well, these are taxes. These are more burdensome rules. The expenses are going to be high. They've said, you know, he said last night that it's going to be less than $1 trillion. Well, they don't even count the first three years, up to four years up to 2013. So it's really not a ten year score when you come to $880 billion or $1 trillion. It's really $1.5 (trillion) to $2.5 trillion, no matter which way you look at it if you use a full ten-year score without deleting the first three or four years.

So these are all problems that have to be worked out. And I'm willing to work them out with him, but you know, when you look at it, they came up with a very partisan bill in the Senate HELP Committee, very partisan bill in the House tri-committee bill and now Senator Baucus has not been given the flexibility to really do much more than what they wanted to begin with.

It went on and on, and on and on. Orrin had a long list of complaints about “the so-called plan.” Soon, he started complaining again. “Again, you have employer mandates, employee mandates, moving of people into Medicaid,” he said to Mitchell, repeating himself. “You add it all up, it doesn't make sense. And look, it's not an $880 billion bill. They don't count the first four years, only the last six or seven years.”

There seemed to be little that Orrin liked. And sure enough! When Mitchell threw to the solon again, he added another complaint:

HATCH: When he talked about medical liability reform, he's talking about, you know, small projects. We don't need small projects. We know what's wrong. We know that doctors over-prescribe. They utilize—over-utilize medical devices. They do a lot of things to keep that history that they write, to protect themselves so that they've done everything possible they can to rule out any and all things. And most of those are not necessary. And consequently, we're spending hundreds of billions of dollars extra just because doctors are so afraid of medical liability. And that doesn't even count how much it costs doctors to pay for their medical liability policies.

You know, obstetricians alone, think about it—

“Well, we're going to have to leave it there,” Andrea said, cutting the solon off mid-screed. She probably acted just in time. It seemed that Orrin could have gone on for days with his list of gripes.

Again, that was Hatch in September 2009. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that Democrats thought such differences could be resolved. Hatch was upset about the public option; about the employer mandates; about the individual mandates; about the Medicare cuts. He was upset about adding to the Medicaid rolls (at least ten million would be added, he told Mitchell, most likely more). He was upset because the bill would cost way too much. And he was upset because he thought efforts at tort reform were a joke. He was getting a snootful on that evergreen when poor Mitchell cut him off.

Back in 2009, Orrin had a long list of complaints. Reviewing that screed today, it’s hard to know why Democrats ever thought they could win his support for a plan.

Well—that’s how things look if you get to see what Hatch actually said. If you get conned about that by Rachel Maddow, things may seem quite different.

Repeat: Back in September 2009, Orrin had a ton of complaints. Unless you watched Maddow last Friday night, in which case you got conned real good—played for a fool—about what Orrin said. But then, this sort of thing now happens routinely on Maddow’s remarkable program.

You know what Orrin said last September. But on Friday, Rachel wanted us rubes to think that Orrin is just a big hypocrite liar. So the lady did what she constantly does—she baldly distorted what Orrin told Mitchell. His “two” complaints have been “resolved,” Maddow said. But he still won’t sign up for reform!

She—or her staff—chopped that tape way down, playing viewers for fools in the process.

Sad. This is Maddow, last Friday night, disinforming a million progressives about what Hatch actually said. First, she played tape of Hatch’s statement to Mitchell—the very statement we’ve posted above. But uh-oh! Comparing this text with the fuller text from above, you can see the early, strategic point at which Orrin’s complaints got cut off:

MADDOW (3/5/10): Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah also appears to be unembarrassed about his own inexplicable self-negating pronouncements on health reform. Back in September of last year, when pretending to want some kind of health reform was still OK for Republicans, Senator Hatch appeared on Andrea Mitchell’s show and agreed with President Obama’s assessment that Democrats and Republicans were, in fact, in agreement on 80 percent of the health reform proposals that were on the table:

HATCH (videotape, 9/11/09): He made the point that about 80 percent of what they’re talking about we probably could agree on. But it’s the 20 percent where all the money is [chuckling] where we have a lot of disagreements. For instance, he was saying, basically, that they’re going to have a public plan, one form or another, that they’re going to have an employer mandate—

That’s all we were shown of Hatch’s statement to Mitchell. (To watch this segment, just click here. You can hear that Hatch is cut off in mid-sentence!) At that point, Maddow broke in, helping us see how “inexplicable” it is that Hatch still won’t support the president’s plan, since his complaints have now been addressed. Assuming Maddow is minimally competent, what you see here is a million-dollar corporate broadcaster baldly deceiving her viewers. This is gruesome, if typical, stuff:

MADDOW (continuing directly): OK, fast forward to this week. Now that the Democrats have compromised substantially on that pesky 20 percent where the all-important disagreement was, according to Orrin Hatch; now that the president’s plan doesn’t even include a public option and there is no employer mandate, which are the two things that Senator Hatch was complaining about in that problematic 20 percent; now that that’s all been resolved, presumably to Senator Hatch’s satisfaction since those are the things he said he didn’t want, Senator Hatch was just asked by Think Progress if he still agrees with Democrats on 80 percent of health reform.

Sad. According to Maddow, the public option and the employer mandate “are the two things that Senator Hatch was complaining about” in September. “Now that that’s all been resolved,” she said, “presumably to Senator Hatch’s satisfaction since those are the things he said he didn’t want, Senator Hatch was just asked by Think Progress if he still agrees with Democrats on 80 percent of health reform.” In fact, Hatch complained about many more things that just those two—and it isn’t even remotely clear that the employer mandate has been “resolved” in a way which satisfies Hatch’s stated objection. (Under Obama’s current proposal, employers are still “penalized if they don't provide health insurance,” the complaint Hatch made to Mitchell.) But so what? On Maddow’s show, the viewer is plainly a rube who exists to be conned and deceived. Maddow’s latest unembarrassed performance continued as follows:

MADDOW (continuing directly): One might think, since Democrats have given in to so many Republican demands since then, maybe he agrees with even more than 80 percent now?

HATCH (videotape): I don’t agree with 80 percent of it. I think most of it is a piece of junk. In all honesty, it’s a big spending, big government bill that really is going to cost a lot more than it’s worth.

MADDOW: “It’s a piece of junk.” “I don’t agree with 80 percent of it.” Never mind what he said six months about agreeing with the Democrats. Now, Orrin Hatch wants you to know he doesn’t agree with the Democrats about anything even remotely related to health reform ever, even the stuff that he agreed with them about before he doesn’t agree with them anymore.

That old Orrin Hatch, he liked a piece of junk. This new Orrin Hatch is not going to like that old Orrin Hatch if they ever get a chance to meet him.

Unless you’re blinded by tribal love, you can see what is blindingly obvious here: Maddow’s viewers got played for fools (again) in last Friday’s segment. Last September, Hatch presented a very long list of complaints about Obama’s proposal. But so what? Maddow chopped the list of complaints down to two; pretended those two have been resolved; then said that it’s “inexplicable” that Hatch won’t sign on to health reform.

Hatch is “unembarrassed” by his conduct, Maddow repeatedly said. As one, the analysts stood and roared. Look who’s talking! they said.

This sort of thing goes on each night on Maddow’s remarkable program. Let’s be fair: It may be that Maddow’s staff does terrible work, and Maddow doesn’t know this. If not, we’d have to say this: We’ve rarely seen anyone so baldly dishonest on cable news of any stripe. This is Hannity-level dissembling, perhaps worse. Here’s why it actually matters:

First, when millionaire broadcasters play you this way, they’re expressing contempt for your being. Hannity has done this sort of thing for decades. “Our side” is now catching up. (Presumably, this is good for business. It brings rube eyeballs to the screen, justifying large salaries.)

Second, and far more important: A progressive broadcaster who works this way will never produce winning politics. She will never help progressive viewers understand the world as it is. This type of screeching and dissembling has worked quite well for Hannity-types down through the years. But even if we’re willing to tolerate this type of dissembling on our programs, we think it’s very unlikely that it will ever work real well for us.

Final point: Maddow seems to want to argue “character” rather than “merits.” That is: Instead of finding ways to explain: Health reform is good and here’s why, she seems determined to argue this: The other tribe is dishonest.

This type of argument makes the liberal choir feel good. (Good for ratings!) It probably isn’t very effective at convincing undecideds or conservative-leaners..

But so what? Night after night, Our Own Rhodes Scholar plays this remarkable game.

Bottom line: Hatch had a very long list of complaints about health reform last fall. It was silly to think he would ever vote for reform. And no, those complaints have not been “resolved.” He has much the same list today.

Is Hatch sincere in his views? We don’t have the slightest idea. But increasingly, it seems clear that Maddow isn’t sincere, unless there’s something bad wrong in her noggin. She keeps the liberal world barefoot and clueless with her repeated dissembling.

It’s good for the bottom line, of course. Ditto-heads R us!