WILL: They're saying pass health care because Ted Kennedy was a splendid fellow. Pass health care because Congressman Wilson was rude -- won't work.
Wednesday night was the 122nd presidential public utterance on health care. Fourteen hours later, Thursday morning, he gave the 123rd; yesterday, in Minnesota, the 124th.
Incessant talk by him cannot cure what incessant talk by him has caused, which is a yawning credibility gap.
Mitch McConnell told me on Friday -- he's been in the Senate 25 years -- never have Republicans polled close to Democrats on which party to trust most on health care until now, and it's...
DONALDSON: George, you're wrong. It's not incessant talk by him that has caused this. It is a lack of talk by him when it might have counted. The speech the other night should have been given in May. He should have gotten started early, making the case against people who said, well, there are death panels and this, that and the other. He didn't. He wasted the summer, in my view. And so, now, he's paying the piper. BROOKS: But it's not the talk; it's the substance that I think was the most important thing of the week. He actually did move a few things. He made the firm promise, no new dime to the deficits -- probably an unkeepable promise, but a very firm promise.
He basically killed the public plan without really saying so. He raised the possibility of creating a -- of capping the tax exemption on employee health benefits, which moderates like. He raised the issue of tort reform, which people are...
BROOKS: And he hinted more -- it's an invitation to amendments. ROBERTS: Right.
BROOKS: And so the Blue Dogs I talked to Thursday morning were ecstatic. The liberals were ecstatic Thursday morning until they realized, by Thursday, he'd stuck the knife...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Except that, Cokie, I think -- you know, one of the points -- I think David's right about the substance, but one of the things the progressives, the liberals took away from this -- his passion made them feel good and made it so they could get something done.
ROBERTS: Well, that something would get done, period. And, of course, that's where we are is just getting something done. His presidency is on the line if he doesn't get something done. And as he said, or apparently will say tonight, "If this bill passes, I own it." So, it's very important...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Since you brought it up, let's show it. Because we have the president here. He's going to be on "60 Minutes" tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I intend to be president for a while. And once this bill passes, I own it. And if people look and say, you know what, this hasn't reduced my costs; my premiums are still going up 25 percent; insurance companies are still jerking me around, I'm the one who's going to be held responsible. So I have every incentive to get this right. (END VIDEO CLIP)
DONALDSON: But, George, the good part would click in immediately. The tough part wouldn't come until after his re-election campaign. STEPHANOPOULOS: But...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... changes don't start until 2013.