NBC Universal helpfully sent me an advance transcript of David Gregory’s interview with the president on this morning’s Meet the Press. The whole interview is dreadful and depressing. Gregory touches on four issues. Issue one is health care. Gregory probes the president to find out what his bottom line is, but he really just wants Obama to punch progressives in the face. Take the following exchange (caps in original):

DAVID GREGORY: Those narrow differences can also, in some cases, be very big differences. And as you were president elect, last year, you said to the nation, “In light of the huge challenges that the country faces,” you said– “we’re going to have to make hard choices. And not all of these choices are going to be popular.” What are the hard choices that you are now asking the American people to make? And who are you gonna say no to — in order to get health care done?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well– I– I’ve already made some– pretty substantial changes in terms of how I was approaching health care. When I was–

DAVID GREGORY: Like the public option. You effectively said to the left, “It’s not gonna happen.”

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well what I — no, no, that’s not true. What I– what I’ve said is the public option, I think, should be a part of this but we shouldn’t think that, somehow, that’s the silver bullet that solves health care. What I’ve said, for example, on– what’s called an individual mandate. During the campaign I said, “Look, if– health care is affordable, then I think people will buy it.” So we don’t have to say to– to folks, “You know what? You have to buy health care.”

And– what– when I talked to health care experts on both the left and the right what they tell me is that, even after you make health care affordable, there’s still gonna be some folks out there who– whether out of inertia, or they just don’t want to but– spend the money– would rather take their chances.

Unfortunately, what that means, is then you and I and every American out there who has health insurance, and are paying their premiums responsibly every month, they’ve gotta pick up the cost for– emergency room care when one of those people gets sick. So what we’ve said as long as we’re making this genuinely affordable to families then you’ve got an obligation to get health care just like you have an obligation to get auto insurance in every state.


PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, that– that– that– I mean, that’s an example of– of a hard choice because– that’s not necessarily wildly popular. But it’s the right thing to do. You know, I– I have said– that it is very important that we take into account the concerns of doctors and nurses who, by the way, support our efforts. And I– and that’s something that doesn’t get noticed much.

The people who are most involved in the health care system know that it’s gotta be reformed. But I’ve said that we’ve gotta take into account their concerns about– medical malpractice. Now, that’s not popular in my party. Never has been. But I’ve talked to enough doctors to know that– even though it’s not– the end all be all of driving down health care costs, it’s very important– to providers to make sure that– their– costs are going down.

So– I think there are gonna be a whole series of Republican ideas, ideas from my opponents during the campaign that we have incorporated and adopted. And this is hard. And– and– the– you know, one of the things I’ve always said is if this had– this had been easy, it would have been taken care of by Teddy Roosevelt.

DAVID GREGORY: But you’re not really taking on, I mean, you’re not saying to the left they’ve got to accept malpractice reform, or– or caps on– on– jury– awards. You don’t even think that that contributes to the escalating cost of health care. What are you– what– what are you really doing to say to the left, “Look, you may not like this, but you gotta get on board and we gotta do this”?

Why does the mainstream media always take the position that all compromise has to come from the Left? What objective observer could possibly conclude that the Right has made concessions? Name me more than one Republican in either house of Congress who has agreed to support the health care bill in return for concessions, or who has said that they will support a bill if a reasonable concession is made?

Issue two is goading Barack Obama on race.

DAVID GREGORY: This health care debate, as you well know, can sometimes be about bigger things. And– and among your harshest critics is the view, somehow, that government is out of control. And, in some cases, it’s gotten very personal. Your election, to a lot of people, was supposed to mark America somehow moving beyond race. And yet, this week you had former President Jimmy Carter saying most, not just a little, but most of this Republican opposition against you is motivated by racism. Do you agree with that?

Of course, whether he agrees with it or not, he doesn’t want to get sidelined from his goal of talking about health care or accuse anyone who opposes his policies of being a racist. That’s not good enough for Gregory, who follows up:

DAVID GREGORY: Just to be clear though. It wasn’t just President Carter. There are others in the Congressional Black Caucus. Other thinkers who have said that they agree. That there is racism out there in that opposition to you. I just want to be clear, are you– are you saying to the former president and others, to speak this way is counterproductive?

In Washington, whenever a bunch of people make racist remarks the obligation is on the black president to denounce the people who point it out. Anything else is counterproductive. Even if that is the unfortunate political reality, why does Gregory have to play along with it? Why can’t he rise above it?

Issue three is Afghanistan. Gregory asks two questions. Does Obama have a deadline for withdrawal (answer, no) and is he skeptical about sending more troops (answer, yes). That’s as hard hitting as Gregory gets. No follow-ups. Than he moves on to issue four.

DAVID GREGORY: On a lighter note, before I let you go, Mr. President, you were brazen this summer at the All Star game wearing your Chicago White Sox (LAUGHTER) jacket out there to throw out the first pitch. Hate to break it to you, but doesn’t look so good for your White Sox here. So I want to know who is your pick to win the World Series?

The whole interview was such a waste of time that I don’t know why Obama thinks doing five of them is going to help him push his agenda. In theory, it could work. But that would require the idiots who are interviewing him to engage in an honest discussion about policy. That just isn’t going to happen on these morning talk shows. Who knows, maybe the Univision interview will be worth half a damn.

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