Number one, now there's one fewer Democrat in the Senate. It's unclear whether Massachusetts will be able to fill -- will change the law to be able to fill that seat. But also, and I guess this is the deeper problem, the Democrats that you need to get to a majority want a bipartisan bill. They want the cover of Republicans on the bill.
DIONNE: Well, first of all, I'm so glad George mentioned Medicare because it is an extraordinary conservative hypocrisy you're seeing now that Republicans are emerging as the great defenders of Medicare, a program they once tried to cut. They say they hate socialized medicine. Medicare is socialized medicine. So it's a really remarkable point we've gotten to here.
The fact is that the Democrats, I think, know what a huge price they paid as a party when Bill Clinton's health care bill went down in 1994. And I think, from left to right in that party, or left to center, they know what a catastrophe it will be if they can't pass a health care bill.
Yes, there are some technical problems in getting it through with less than 60 votes, but, you know, as Donald Rumsfeld might say, you go with -- you have to live with the Republican Party you have, not the Republican Party you wish existed. And Republicans don't want to support this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: More than -- I think that may be true, but do -- and I'm wondering if you're right about your analysis. Are the Democrats...
CHENEY: I have a view on that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And I want to bring you in on it as well. (LAUGHTER)
Are the Democrats who are for the public option now -- do you think they've absorbed the lesson you say you've absorbed, which is the consequence of failure is just too -- too deep?
DIONNE: See, I think the mistake President Obama made is sending mixed signals on the public options so early. I think he is for it. He should have defended it and described it. Right now, it's only an ideological debate. We're not talking about the actual benefits it could produce in terms of cost -- saving money.
In the end, if he fights for it and it's clear that you can't get a bill without it, then I think liberals would go along, if you could massively increase coverage. You've got to push it.
CHENEY: I think that, you know, there's a much bigger problem here. I think you've got a situation where President Obama, who is supposed to be, sort of, the great communicator, the White House rolls him out for three town hall meetings over the course of the last several months, and on issue after issue where he's attempting to provide some comfort to the American people, you know, they're looking at focus groups and they're seeing that the American people want costs down.
So the president asserts that this -- these plans, which everyone has adopted, will in fact result in a cost cut. And then the CBO and now the OMB, also, in Peter Orszag's letter, have said that's not the case; in fact, we're going to increase the deficit.
On an issue like, will you be able to keep your own health insurance if you like it, the president is out there asserting, in these town halls, yes, you can keep your own health insurance. But then, in a conference call with liberal bloggers, when he's asked about a particular provision in the legislation that sounds like it wouldn't allow to you keep your own insurance, he has to admit he hasn't read the bill.
So there's a deeper problem here. The American people are very...