Aug 30, 2009 -- ABC NEWS, THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS INTERVIEW WITH SENATOR JOHN KERRY AND SENATOR ORRIN HATCH
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Edward Moore Kennedy.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Ted Kennedy became the greatestlegislator of our time.
STEPHANOPOULOS: A life in full.
KENNEDY: I plan that I shall dedicate all of my strength andwill to serving you in the United States Senate.
The hope rises again, and the dream lives on.
(singing): I love sweet Rosie O'Grady and Rosie O'Grady lovesme!
STEPHANOPOULOS: Our headliners this morning, two of Kennedy'sclosest friends in the Senate. Democrat John Kerry and RepublicanOrrin Hatch.
REP. EDWARD J. MARKEY, D-MASS.: Senator Kennedy's spirit willinfuse the Congress.
HHS SECRETARY KATHLEEN SEBELIUS: Hopefully at every step alongthe way, they'll ask themselves, what would Teddy do?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Without Kennedy, what's next for health care?That and all the week's politics on an expanded roundtable with GeorgeWill, Sam Donaldson, Gwen Ifill, E.J. Dionne and Liz Cheney. All thison a special edition of "This Week.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Good morning. He was the youngest Kennedybrother who lived the longest. The only one who could prepare for hisdeath.
And the by the time Teddy Kennedy was buried next to Bobby andJohn late yesterday, you just knew it was the farewell he wanted. From the Senate he served. The sons he loved.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDWARD KENNEDY, JR., SON: I said, I can't do this. He said, Iknow you can do it. There is nothing that you can't do. We're goingto climb that hill together even if it takes us all day.
REP. PATRICK J. KENNEDY, D-R.I.: When he first got elected andmy cousin Joe was a member of Congress and I came to Congress, dadfinally celebrated saying, finally after all these years, when someonesays, who does that damn Kennedy think he is? There's only a one inthree chance they're talking about me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The greatest expectations were placed upon Ted Kennedy'sshoulders because of who he was, but he surpassed them all because ofwho he became.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: And with that, let me bring in senators JohnKerry and Orrin Hatch. Welcome to you both.
And you both spoke movingly Friday night as a celebration forSenator Kennedy. And I want to begin with you, Senator Kerry, becauseyou called this last year of Senator Kennedy's life the sweetest ofseasons. And I wonder if you could share a little bit of what youlearned and saw of your friend in his last year.
KERRY: Well, he -- he was so graceful, George. And courageous.And I think the most important thing is that he was able to see andfeel the love and affection and the accomplishment of his lifetime.
So that in the end when he went, he was truly ready and at peace.And I think there is a beauty in that.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And that was one of the themes really of thiswhole week. And, Senator Hatch, you cracked everybody up Friday nightwhen you talked about your friend, Senator Kennedy, and especiallywhen you talked about those old days sometimes when he was feeling nopain, in your words, on the Senate Floor.
But you spun it out into a story of redemption.
HATCH: Yes. Actually, Teddy was a very religious person. And,you know, when Vicki came into his life, it changed a lot of things.
Of course, we had some experiences before that as well that werevery redemptive and helpful. And all I can say is that the latterpart of Teddy's life was really, really tremendous. And I enjoyedbeing with him, you know?
We were like fighting brothers. I mean, we would go at eachother and he would walk up to me and throw his arms around me and say,how did I do?
HATCH: And I used to just laugh. And I used to really rib himand give him a rough time too.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You said fighting brothers, and I couldn't helpbut notice you and Senator Kerry already talking about health careright before we went...
KERRY: Yes, listen, we're going to get Orrin. Orrin is going tobe our man. He is going to be the go-to Republican. He is going todo what Ted Kennedy would have done. Right, Orrin?
HATCH: All they have -- all they have to do is just startthinking straight, and I'll be right there with them, I'll tell you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's the big question. You say, do whatTed Kennedy would have done. And you know, this has been a big partof the debate this week. In fact, Secretary Sebelius engaged it justa couple of days ago.
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SEBELIUS: The best possible legacy is to pass health reform thisyear and have a bill that President Obama could sign. And hopefullyat every step along the way, they'll ask themselves what would Teddydo? And move it forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Senator Kerry, there already is a bigdebate over what would Teddy do. I mean, I think a lot of liberalsand progressives saying he would fight for this public healthinsurance option and, you know, if that -- if you didn't have that, itwasn't worth doing.
Others look at it, and I think you may be one of them who say,no, the lesson of Senator is that he got what he could get, theperfect couldn't be the enemy of the good.
KERRY: Well, Ted would put facts on the table and he would putthe reality of life for a lot of Americans on the table. And thereality of life is that we have over 87 million Americans every yearduring some portion of the year who don't have insurance. And almost50 million who all of the time don't have insurance.
It costs them and costs America an enormous amount of money. Weare not managing an efficient health care system. And so we aredelivering worse health care for more money than many other nations inthe world.
Now Orrin knows that. We know we can do a better job ofproviding health care to Americans. And what Teddy would do is hewould fight for that public option, because he believes -- believedthat the public option, as I do, is an effective -- the best waypossible to be able to reduce the...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But he could count votes as well...
KERRY: Now let me just finish...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... and the votes don't seem to be there.
KERRY: Let me just finish. Let me finish. He would fight forit, and he would do everything in his power to get it, just like hedid for the minimum wage or like he did for children's health care, etcetera. But if he didn't see the ability to be able to get it done, hewould not throw the baby out with the bathwater. He would not say noto anything because we have to reduce the cost. We have to make thesechanges. And he would find the best way forward.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So he wouldn't agree with those like Howard Deanwho say it's not worth doing if you don't have the public healthinsurance option?
KERRY: I think there is an enormous amount, George -- oh, hereis what Teddy would do. He would say, I'm going to fight the fight,and if and when we get to the point that we can't get there, we'll seewhether or not we can do enough to make good happen out of this.
And you can't make that measurement today. We have to go downthat road.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You said, earlier this year, Senator Hatch, thatSenator Kennedy was really missed in the negotiations, because of hisability to speak to progressives and reach out to Republicans.
What about going forward right now? Who can fill that void andis there a deal to be had here?
HATCH: One thing that Kennedy had, he could bring together allof the base groups of the Democratic Party. They wouldn't take him ononce he made up his mind. And as somebody who over the last 33 yearspassed almost every health care bill that works, many of them with TedKennedy, in fact, most of them with Ted Kennedy.
Everything from orphan drugs to the three AIDS bills to the CHIPbill, you can just name it, you know, even people with disabilities.I mean, we worked on all of those together.
In every case, he fought as hard as he could, like John has saidhere, but when he recognized that, you know, he couldn't geteverything that he wanted, but he could get a good bill by workingwith the other side. And making through compromise, he would alwayscome through.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Did you think he would move in that directionnow?
HATCH: I have no doubt about it. I mean, if he was here...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it doable now?
HATCH: ... I don't think we'd be in the mess we're in right now.And look, Ted was the leading liberal in the Senate -- in the wholeCongress, as far as I'm concerned. And others come very close to him,like John here.
I mean, very good people, but you know, let's be honest about it,the people out there are very concerned. They don't want aWashington-run government plan, it's just that simple. And I thinkthat is showing up everywhere throughout America. When Medicare is $38 trillion in unfunded liability, and thenthey want to take $400 billion or $500 billion out of Medicare, Imean, come on, this doesn't make sense. And Teddy would haverecognized that.
And look, I -- we used to get in tremendous fights, he and I, butwe would always come together in the end. And it was always becauseboth of us were willing to go to the center. And sometimes he wouldgo to the center-right.
I mean, CHIP was a center-right bill.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So what's going to...
KERRY: Yes, but one of the things that Teddy would make clear,and I want to now, is that no one is talking about a government-run,Washington-based health care plan. That is not what people aretalking about.
So if we can get a reality onto the table, which Orrin is usuallypretty good at doing, we can have a good conversation here.
I'm convinced we're going to do this. I believe better judgmentis going to prevail. I think we're going to come back, begin thisdiscussion anew in a way that we ought to. And I think we're...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But let me draw out something...
KERRY: ... going to get it done.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Democrats and Republicans, if you look at --across the broad (INAUDIBLE), have agreed on a couple of components ofthe bill.
STEPHANOPOULOS: These insurance reforms, you can't be deniedhealth care if you're sick. You can't get thrown out if you're sick.A lot of Democrats, Republicans say that maybe we should have thisindividual mandate, to require people to buy insurance, to couple thatwith reforms.
Bill Bradley points out today, I think it was in The New YorkTimes, that, you know, maybe they should include some malpracticereform as well. Are they -- those three things the building blocks ofa deal?
HATCH: Yes, they really are. You know, Democrats have beenunwilling to take on the personal injury lawyers. And look, there arecases that really deserve huge rewards, huge judgments.
We've got to find some way of getting rid of the frivolous cases,and most of them are. Most of them are brought...
KERRY: And that's doable, most definitely.
HATCH: Yes, and that's doable. Most of them are brought to --you know, to get the defense costs. They know that once they bringthem, the insurance companies are going to have to pay their defensecosts rather than take a chance at a runaway jury.
But it's not just that. It's the other elements you've beentalking about too. Those are three very important...
STEPHANOPOULOS: And then if you add some subsidies to that tomove towards covering more people...
KERRY: Yes, which I think we have some -- actually, I think wehave some flexibility on as to sort of the rate and manner in whichyou do that. So I think that there are ways to do this, George.
As a member of the Finance Committee, I've been part of thisdiscussion, though many of us would like to see it broadened in someways. I'd like -- I mean, you know, my question to Orrin and toothers is, you know, who is the Republican? Who are the Republicans,plural, who are prepared to step up and do as Ted Kennedy would havedone here?
STEPHANOPOULOS: You were part of the negotiations earlier thisyear but then stepped away. Are you ready to come back?
ORRIN: Sure. I've always been ready to do that. But look, youtalk about an individual mandate. The problem with an individualmandate is that the people who are really hurt the most are those onthe lower end of the wage spectrum.
They either lose their jobs, a cutback in pay, or the companygoes overseas. Once you start doing that -- because the theory behindthat is that you've penalized the company if they don't provideinsurance for their people by having them have it surcharged.
And look, let's just be honest about it, it's a very difficultthing to do. There are some ways we could do this, none -- bothsides...
KERRY: Actually, Orrin...
HATCH: Both sides are arguing for insurance reform. That's notthe issue. The issue is, how do we put all of these elementstogether...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me switch to...
KERRY: The truth is we're doing that very effectively inMassachusetts. Ted Kennedy was part of making that happen -- a keypart of making that happen. We went from 10 percent of our folks whohad no insurance down to 2.6 percent, the lowest percentage ofuninsured in the nation. And it has worked. And companies have not left. Companies, infact, are delighted with the better distribution of costs in thestate.
So what we need to do is have people who want to sit down and notbe bound by ideology, not be the prisoners of a political strategy,but who want to get health care done based on the best way to getit...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me move to...
KERRY: ... done. If we did that, we'd get it done.
HATCH: Can I make a point on that?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Very quickly.
HATCH: You know, that's one of my points that I've been making,is that Utah is not Massachusetts, neither is any other state.Massachusetts is having a very, very difficult time because of thecosts involved in their program. But it is their right to do that.
Utah has one of the best health care systems in the country, mostpeople agree with that, as does Minnesota. Because -- and I think thedemographics in each state are different. I think if we give someflexibility, we might be able to have a better -- a very good...
STEPHANOPOULOS: We have to move on to another...
HATCH: ... health care system.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Another issue that...
STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Let me move to another issue that came upearlier this week. The attorney general decided to investigatepossible CIA abuses in the prisoner interrogation cases.
And Vice President Cheney this morning has blasted that decisionby the attorney general.
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DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: The approach of the Obamaadministration should be to come to those people who were involved inthat policy and say, how did you do it? What were the keys to keepingthe country safe over that period of time?
Instead, they're out there now threatening to disbar the lawyerswho gave us the legal opinions, threatening, contrary to what thepresident originally said, they were going to go out and investigatethe CIA personnel who carried out those investigations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: He called it an outrageous and possiblydangerous act.
KERRY: Well, Dick Cheney has shown through the years, frankly, adisrespect for the Constitution, for sharing of information withCongress, respect for the law, and I'm not surprised that he is upsetabout this.
The Obama administration has no intention -- I think thepresident himself has been unbelievably bending in the direction oftrying to be careful about what happens to national security,protecting our national security interests, being very sensitive aboutthe CIA's prerogatives and needs and so forth.
And in fact, I think there is a little bit of a tension betweenthe White House itself and the lawyers in the Justice Department asthey see the law and as what their obligation is.
And in a sense, that's good. That's appropriate, because itshows that we have an attorney general who is not pursuing a politicalagenda, but who is doing what he believes the law requires him to do.
And we have an administration, on the other hand, that isbalancing some of those other interests.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The vice president also said that he believesthat CIA officials who went outside the bounds of the guidelines theywere given were justified. Do you agree with that?
HATCH: There is a real question whether they went outside of thebounds that they were given at the time. Look, I -- as the longest-serving person in the Senate Intelligence Committee, I've got to tellyou, we don't want to cripple our ability to be able, in very crucialtimes, to get the information we've got to have to save our countryand to protect our people.
I think what Dick Cheney is arguing for -- and look, how cananybody argue that Cheney has been a great asset to the country in somany ways? He is a tough guy, there is no question. He differs fromthe so-called progressives in the Congress.
And I really question, after all of the investigations were done,some prosecutions that were waged, and most of this material wasdecided not to go forward, to now go forward with this, I reallyquestion whether the attorney general is doing what is right.
And look, the attorneys, maybe you can question the opinions, butthey were sincere opinions. I know the attorneys involved. They werewonderful, wonderful...
HATCH: ... lawyers who...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... they're not going to be investigating thatpart.
HATCH: Well, they shouldn't investigate that part. And norshould they be prosecuting people who acted under good faith followingadvice of the lawyers in the department.
So, you know, and what they're doing is crippling the CIA wherethey're going to be unwilling to really take the risks that have to betaken during really crucial times.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Afraid that's all we have time for today.Gentlemen, thank you both very much for coming in this morning.
KERRY: Thanks, good to be with you, George.
HATCH: It's nice to be with you, George.
KERRY: Thank you.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to go straight to the roundtable.And as our panelists take their seats, turn back the clock, the firstdebate of Ted Kennedy's first campaign.
STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to go straight to the roundtable.And as our panelists take their seats, turn back the clock, the firstdebate of Ted Kennedy's first campaign.
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EDWARD MCCORMICK: If his name was Edward Moore, with hisqualifications -- with your qualifications, Ted, if it was EdwardMoore, your candidacy would be a joke. KENNEDY: The great problems of this election are the questionsof peace and whether Massachusetts will move forward or not. Weshould not have any talk about personalities or families. I feel thatwe should be talking about the people's destiny in Massachusetts. (END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: 47 years ago. Let me bring in the roundtable totalk about Ted Kennedy. I'm joined, as always, by George Will, E.J.Dionne of the Washington Post and the Brookings Institution. LizCheney, former State Department official, of course, the daughter ofthe former vice president, as well. Sam Donaldson, welcome back. AndGwen Ifill of PBS.
And, George, it is remarkable. You look at that debate, thefirst debate, 47 years later he wrote 2,500 bills, 300 signed intolaw, and I was struck. You wrote this week that he may be the mostconsequential Kennedy brother. WILL: Yes, in the sense that politics requires patience andrewards cumulative effort, and the other two lives were cut short. History dealt Ted Kennedy a bad hand. That is, he became Mr.Democrat and Mr. Liberal at a time when liberalism just began torecede. His career is a little bit like that of Robert Taft, who fora generation was Mr. Republican. The Republicans loved him, applaudedhim, and never nominated him for president. In 1980, they refused to nominate Ted Kennedy. In 1984, theynominated the last New Deal Democrat to be nominated, that was WalterMondale, and he lost 49 states. In '88, they began moving away withDukakis. In '92, they finally elected a really different Democrat. DONALDSON: Well, you know, Eddie McCormick was right in 1962.His candidacy was a joke, except for the fact that his brother waspresident of the United States, and Kennedys in Massachusetts werevery important. And for the first 15, maybe 20 years, I think what hedid in the Senate was not something that will be his legacy. It isthe things he did outside of the Senate that people remember. But it was liberating to lose that nomination fight to JimmyCarter, get that monkey off his back, and the next few years,particularly when he married Vicki, I think the whole body of TedKennedy's work has to be judged. And in judging the whole body, Ithink I agree with George. STEPHANOPOULOS: E.J., Ted Kennedy himself put it in context, inthis remarkable scene -- I don't know how many saw it -- but lastnight at Arlington Cemetery, Cardinal McCarrick read the letter, partsof the letter that Ted Kennedy wrote to the pope earlier this summer,and he talked about how he wasn't a perfect person, but he also seemedto use his Catholic faith and say that his public career had -- wasrooted in his faith and an expression of his faith. DIONNE: You know, we Catholics believe profoundly in the powerof confession, and in a way, part of that letter was Ted Kennedy'slast confession, an acknowledgement of sin. What he really did is he got the last word at his own funeral,and it was an extraordinary manifesto in part. And I think he was --his Catholicism was very important to him. He was a seriouschurchgoer, and it was not only a way to make a public case for hiskind of liberal Catholicism, it was also a way of lobbying PopeBenedict. And it's fascinating that pope...
DIONNE: Yes, and that it's interesting, Pope Benedict's latestencyclical was a powerful call for social justice that Ted Kennedywould have endorsed almost to the last comma.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He did mention abortion, of course, in thatletter...
DIONNE: He did slightly (ph). He said we want a protection forCatholic doctors within the health care plan. (CROSSTALK)
DONALDSON: ... any question about the Catholic Church. Instructme. Why couldn't the pope have replied in his own name? STEPHANOPOULOS: I'm glad you asked that question. DIONNE: I was curious about that, as well. I think that it'spossible that there's a head of state/head of state thing going on.It's possible that the pope didn't want to send a signal ofendorsement, because they did disagree on abortion. But that's -- I'mnot sure why the pope didn't write personally. DONALDSON: I was disappointed, although it's not my place tocriticize the pope... DIONNE: Although this was a very warm reply done in the thirdperson. STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me bring in Liz here. Another contradictionof Ted Kennedy, which we saw played out this week. He was theDemocrat who in the country Republicans loved to hate, but you saw somuch here inside the Capitol so many Republicans loved him. CHENEY: Well, I think that goes to sort of what he was like as aman off the floor of the Senate. I think obviously, there were somevery bitter partisan debates that people had with him, but I too wasstruck by the eulogies you heard by people like Senator Hatch andothers, Senator McCain, as well. And I think also, you know, what he showed was sort of theexample of a man who dedicated his professional life to service thenation. And, you know, I think at a time that we're in now for thecountry, it is an example and I think it's an example for youngpeople. I hope it serves as an example for young people, sort of thenobility of public office. And I think you have to admire his passionand his perseverance even though many of us, myself included, youknow, disagree strongly with him on his politics.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, speaking of the young people, you wereat the funeral yesterday. You also covered Senator Kennedy in theSenate, and it was another striking moment, not only the sons but alsothe nieces, the nephews, the grandchildren using the litany to talkabout Ted Kennedy's public works. IFILL: You know, I served on the board -- I serve on the boardof the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School, and SenatorKennedy was on that board obviously as is his niece. And he not onlyreached out to the children of his family, he also spent a lot of timeevery time he visited Harvard with the students who wanted to befuture public servants. Not just people who wanted to be politicians,people who volunteered in local schools in Cambridge and people who doamazing things and that would come to Washington and intern in variousoffices, Republicans, Democrats, you name it.
And he was very invested in that in the name of his brother andin the name of his family. But it was also an example of how TedKennedy, and I noticed this yesterday in all of the eulogies and allweekend long, he was known as the great lion, the great liberal lion.And he was that. But he was liberal in a way that Jack Kemp used tosay he was a Democrat and that was a little "L" and Jack Kemp was alittle "D."
In that he believed in expansiveness. When he defined civilrights, he thought civil rights applied to people who were disabledand to people who wanted to be married who are same sex and he thoughtthat liberalism applied to people who needed to vote at the age of 18and young girls who wanted to compete in athletics. He had a hand inall of these things, so very expansive. STEPHANOPOULOS: Expansive, George, but you point out that eramay be over and I want to pick up on the conversations that SenatorsKerry and Hatch had. Is there any way that anyone, any senator canfill that void, that niche? WILL: I don't think so, partly because this was a product oflongevity and the enormous niceness of the man. People just liked TedKennedy. The funny thing is what's happened in this August it seemsto me is the country has indicated a bifurcated mind, great affectionfor Ted Kennedy. But at the same time, they are having secondthoughts about this president and this president is the first TedKennedy Democrat elected since Roosevelt. STEPHANOPOULOS: That gives me the segue that I want to take abreak there because we want to come back and talk about this wholehealth care debate and how did Ted Kennedy's death affects it. Also,the debate over this attorney general's investigation into the CIA.
But as we go to the break, let me share my favorite interviewwith Ted Kennedy. It was just before the Democratic Convention in2004 and the senator was walking me around the grounds at Hyannisportpointing out the house where his brother Jack first learned he wouldbe president, and I asked Kennedy how much he regretted not winningthe White House himself.
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KENNEDY: My pursuit is public service, not the constant pursuitof the presidency. I said that almost 25 years ago, so I have beenhonored to serve in the United States Senate. I love the UnitedStates Senate and we've been able to get a number of things done inthe United States Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: We will be right back with "The Roundtable" and"The Sunday Funnies."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KENNEDY: If we're to accept the recommendations of theadministration, what we're in effect going to be doing is still havingtwo sets of medical standards, one for the poor of this country andone for the rich, and I think if we've learned one significant factorover the period of the last 20 years when the Congress and the countryis focused on this issue is that what we need is one kind of a programfor all Americans, rich and poor, and that ought to be quality healthfor all Americans. (END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Ted Kennedy saying he's not going to acceptRichard Nixon's health plan in 1972. Years later, he called it one ofhis biggest legislative mistakes. With that, let me bring "TheRoundtable" back in. I'm joined by George Will, E.J. Dionne, LizCheney, Sam Donaldson and Gwen Ifill and I think, George, that gets atthe difficulty of this whole what would Kennedy do debate, what wouldTeddy do debate? He was both a fierce partisan, an ideologicalpartisan a very pragmatic legislator at the time. WILL: Conservatives spend our lives saying there is a reasonthings are as they are. There are vast forces out there and there's areason why health care is very difficult to do.
WILL: Newt Gingrich has a piece in the Washington Post thismorning saying since the Second World War, only Gerald Ford and BillClinton had lower poll ratings than Barack Obama now has after sevenmonths. If that is true, it is because the independents are leavinghim, and more important, the elderly are. In 2008 -- and everyone in Congress knows this number -- in 2008,40 percent of the votes were cast by voters 50 years old or older. By2030, when the baby boomers have all retired, there will be moreAmericans 65 years old or older than there are Americans 18 or under.This is the politics of gerontocracy. And what we're learning is that those to whom health care is mostimportant are most wary of this program. STEPHANOPOULOS: You know what's interesting, Gwen, is thatSenator Kennedy is one of those Democrats who would have had the mostcredibility with senior citizens, could sell the deal if that's indeed-- if one did indeed come together. IFILL: Yes, and there's -- there's a big debate going on aboutwhether Senator Kennedy actually had the magic wand and could haveinfluenced the direction of this debate. I don't think that'sresolved at all.
But it's also clear that people are reaching for something.There was a great deep breath taken this August. There were, youknow, no shark attacks and, you know, no hurricanes that actually...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Unless you were at a town hall meeting. IFILL: Unless you were at a town hall meeting.
Well, the town hall meetings filled the void. And maybe theywouldn't have been -- wouldn't have gotten attention. There wouldhave been unhappy people, but it wouldn't have been so vitriolic inthe way it did, consume so much time. Ted Kennedy's death made people stop and pay attention tosomething else for a few days. Now, we'll see what happens wheneverybody comes back to town, back to school, in Washington, afterLabor Day, and whether they start from a different spot or whethereverything keeps going downhill. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, and that's the -- I was, you know, Sam,watching these two senators there, it seems like there's this sensethat because, in the wake of the death, you want to be a little bitmore civil. You want to try to find this common ground. But then,the closer you listen, there's still huge differences here. DONALDSON: Oh, absolutely. Two months ago I was talking to TomDaschle, who might have been but isn't HHS secretary, but still isinfluential on the Obama Side about health care, who said then, we mayjust have to push it through with reconciliation in the Senate,meaning...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Democrats only?
DONALDSON: Yes, the Democrats only, because, if they don't getsomething that is meaningful -- Ted Kennedy is right; Ronald Reagan,the same way, you take what you can get from the standpoint of half aloaf, rather than nothing whatsoever. But half a loaf, in this case,if it doesn't produce the goals, particularly of reducing the increasein health care expenses, isn't good enough.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And, E.J., there's a problem with this wholeDemocrats-only strategy -- a couple of problems.
Number one, now there's one fewer Democrat in the Senate. It'sunclear whether Massachusetts will be able to fill -- will change thelaw to be able to fill that seat. But also, and I guess this is thedeeper problem, the Democrats that you need to get to a majority wanta bipartisan bill. They want the cover of Republicans on the bill.
DIONNE: Well, first of all, I'm so glad George mentionedMedicare because it is an extraordinary conservative hypocrisy you'reseeing now that Republicans are emerging as the great defenders ofMedicare, a program they once tried to cut. They say they hatesocialized medicine. Medicare is socialized medicine. So it's areally remarkable point we've gotten to here.
The fact is that the Democrats, I think, know what a huge pricethey paid as a party when Bill Clinton's health care bill went down in1994. And I think, from left to right in that party, or left tocenter, they know what a catastrophe it will be if they can't pass ahealth care bill.
Yes, there are some technical problems in getting it through withless than 60 votes, but, you know, as Donald Rumsfeld might say, yougo with -- you have to live with the Republican Party you have, notthe Republican Party you wish existed. And Republicans don't want tosupport this.
STEPHANOPOULOS: More than -- I think that may be true, but do --and I'm wondering if you're right about your analysis. Are theDemocrats...
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 youthink they've absorbed the lesson you say you've absorbed, which isthe consequence of failure is just too -- too deep?
DIONNE: See, I think the mistake President Obama made is sendingmixed signals on the public options so early. I think he is for it. He should have defended it and describedit. Right now, it's only an ideological debate. We're not talkingabout the actual benefits it could produce in terms of cost -- savingmoney.
In the end, if he fights for it and it's clear that you can't geta bill without it, then I think liberals would go along, if you couldmassively increase coverage. You've got to push it.
CHENEY: I think that, you know, there's a much bigger problemhere. I think you've got a situation where President Obama, who issupposed to be, sort of, the great communicator, the White House rollshim out for three town hall meetings over the course of the lastseveral months, and on issue after issue where he's attempting toprovide some comfort to the American people, you know, they're lookingat focus groups and they're seeing that the American people want costsdown.
So the president asserts that this -- these plans, which everyonehas adopted, will in fact result in a cost cut. And then the CBO andnow the OMB, also, in Peter Orszag's letter, have said that's not thecase; in fact, we're going to increase the deficit.
On an issue like, will you be able to keep your own healthinsurance if you like it, the president is out there asserting, inthese town halls, yes, you can keep your own health insurance. But then, in a conference call with liberal bloggers, when he'sasked about a particular provision in the legislation that sounds likeit wouldn't allow to you keep your own insurance, he has to admit hehasn't read the bill.
So there's a deeper problem here. The American people arevery...
CHENEY: Well, this was H.R. 3200 they were talking about.
CHENEY: But there's a deeper problem here, which is that theAmerican people fundamentally are scared about, you know, whateverbill is being proposed, and they, sort of, look to their president,particularly one who has been such an effective communicator in thepast, to be able to give them some comfort.
And when they see such a difference between the president'srhetoric and blanket assertions and the specifics in any of the piecesof legislation...
DONALDSON: You're right, in...
CHENEY: ... I think it gives us some concern.
DONALDSON: We talked about it before. This president, by July,should have said "This is what we should do. You cats have beenherding yourselves; now it's time someone's got to herd you; and thisis what I think we should do; Move on that" -- to his party. BeFranklin Roosevelt. Be a tough guy, no more Mr. nice guy. Instead hestill wanted them to figure it out. (CROSSTALK)
IFILL: Sam, I don't know that he was going to win, no matterwhat he decided to do.
DONALDSON: Well, he's got to win, Gwen. If he doesn't win onthis one...
IFILL: That's your opinion, Sam.
My point is that he's making everybody unhappy. The headline inThe Washington Post today, the op-ed, which said, OK, we bought intothe hope; where is the audacity?
Liberals are not happy with him right now. Conservatives are nothappy. What will be interesting to watch, after the holiday, is whatis the line that he can force? (CROSSTALK)
CHENEY: It's more than a technical problem, though. You know,the White House is now facing a really tough choice, which is, are yougoing to not get anything on what the president has said is hiscentral domestic policy issue, or are you going to push it throughwith the Democrats.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, and that's a -- that's a -- there's atactical problem there. Go ahead.
DIONNE: Well, I was going to say, people are torn becausethey're always afraid that if government does the wrong thing, they'regoing to lose something. But the conservatives won this debate inAugust because they focused on that.
Everybody has forgotten what they don't like about the currenthealth care system. They don't like that people go bankrupt. Theydon't like that you can be denied coverage because you have a pre-existing condition. And Obama's task is to move the conversation backto, wait a minute, there's stuff here you don't like and we're goingto fix it. (CROSSTALK)
CHENEY: That's right. But what's happened, though, now -- sorry-- but what's happened is that people are realizing that what is beingproposed, no matter what the bill is, is actually worse or will makethings worse than things they don't like.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Those who have insurance are worried about thatright now. WILL: First, on a point of order...
... Brother E.J. says the Republicans are guilty of hypocrisy fornow defending Medicare against cuts. The president is guilty ofcognitive dissonance on Medicare. DIONNE: Which is worse?
WILL: He says to the elderly, fear not, Medicare is a governmenthealth program that works well. Next breath, he says, it's goingbroke and in deep trouble. Now, which is it? DIONNE: Well, it's both. I mean, in fact, you cannot sustainMedicare over the long haul, and he's trying to fix it. (CROSSTALK)
DONALDSON: Well, I tried to figure out why all of the elderlypeople, of which I am one, are against the government programs, sincewe're all in Medicare. I had my aortic valve replaced -- thank you,taxpayers -- and I did pay some taxes. Over $100,000, I have managedto come up with 1,800 out of my pocket.
Now we are also worried, apparently, that they will cut some ofthe benefits from Medicare to make up that, so I'd have to come upwith $2,100...
DONALDSON: ... $100,000.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And the way the White House tried to solve thisproblem was by reaching this deal with the pharmaceuticalmanufacturers where they would agree to...
DONALDSON: Billy Tauzin...
Billy Tauzin, the lobbyist for the pharmaceutical...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's the problem. They got the agreementto fill this doughnut hole, which would affect a lot of seniors, butnow the Democratic leaders in the Congress are backing away from thatdeal.
IFILL: That's my point. How exactly do you win a fight whereeverybody hates your ideas, where everybody hates your approach? WILL: Let me tell you how.
IFILL: And now he's the president. That's his job. It's a hardjob. But it's his job.
DONALDSON: You should know what your ideas are to begin with. IFILL: Well, yes.
DIONNE: ... what he wants to do. I think that, you know,between the Hillary Clinton approach, which was unbelievable detail, a500-person group and zero, there's a lot of room, and he's got to moveto more specificity.
CHENEY: The other thing he's got to do is deal with tort reform.The American people fundamentally know that the cost of malpractice is-- is a huge cost savings here.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You heard Senator Kerry -- but, you know, bothBill Bradley in the Times today, but also Senator Kerry,interestingly, seemed to make -- seemed to accept that that could bepart of a final deal.
Let's change subjects now and get to the other big news of theweek, the attorney general's decision to investigate possible CIAabuses. The president first spoke about this back in February. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If there are clear instances ofwrongdoing, that people should be prosecuted just like any ordinarycitizen, but that, generally speaking, I'm more interested in lookingforward than I am in looking backwards. (END VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, the attorney general made this decisionthis week, and it wasn't necessarily a decision, I think, the WhiteHouse was all that happy with, George Will. But it does appear to meet those broad parameters the presidentlaid out. According to -- the attorney general is not going toinvestigate those who wrote the law. He's not going to investigatethe policymakers, only those who went outside the guidelines given tothe CIA.
WILL: The president speaks as though he's a disinterestedbystander, and the Obama administration's position seems to be, thepresident cannot control the attorney general -- which is false -- andeven more dangerously false, that the attorney general can controlthis prosecutor. If we've learned anything at all -- and we maybehaven't -- from all the prosecutors we've had in recent years, it isthat they get their own momentum, they get their own agenda, theyfollow what they call the logic of the law, and...
STEPHANOPOULOS: So what's the danger then? WILL: The danger is that you not only start to prosecute peoplein a way that looks like double jeopardy in some cases, but you beginto go up the food chain toward the senior levels of the Bushadministration.
DONALDSON: George, as I understand it, a person that has beencalled a prosecutor has been appointed to determine whether in hisopinion there is grounds to proceed with prosecutions. He will make arecommendation. There are no prosecutions. He is not prosecuting atthe moment.
WILL: And if he recommends yes, who is to say no?
DONALDSON: Well, as you say, it will be the presidentultimately. (CROSSTALK)
CHENEY: The investigation has already been done. STEPHANOPOULOS: One thing administration officials say...
DONALDSON: By the Bush administration.
CHENEY: No, by career...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Excuse me, Sam. That's where the discussionscould come in. I'll go to you in a second, Liz. That's the argumentthey're making, is that he just does this initial investigation, andthat further on in the process, either the attorney general or theWhite House could then make the decision -- you know you're right,these were investigated before, it's not worth prosecuting again, eventhough there is some evidence. CHENEY: Well, I'm not sure that there is some evidence. STEPHANOPOULOS: If there were. CHENEY: This was looked at for five years by career prosecutors.They decided not to prosecute, except in one case where a contractorhas been convicted and is in jail. In the other cases, Leon Panettahimself has laid out to his employees that they took disciplinaryaction where they felt it was necessary at the CIA. The other big danger here, though, is we've investigated all ofthis before. We are now opening what is clearly a politicalinvestigation at a moment when we need the CIA focused on keeping thenation safe. And there's no question but that when you start talkingabout investigating and prosecuting, people having to hire lawyers todefend against this, it is simply the case that their attention is notentirely focused where we need it to be. And I think it's verydamaging (ph).
STEPHANOPOULOS: E.J., there does seem to be a dilemma here. Onthe one hand, the Justice Department lawyers say, listen, if there'ssome evidence of wrongdoing, we're bound by statutes to investigate.On the other hand, you do have this double jeopardy problem, wherepeople were investigated under the previous administration. Even ifyou find some (inaudible) evidence, there might be a reason not to goforward because it does appear to be politicizing this. DIONNE: You know, what's astonishing is that Eric Holder isbeing accused of politicizing this when he has made a decision thathas clearly made the White House unhappy. The White House wouldprefer this to go away, and I think what it does show is finally we dohave an independent Justice Department that's making decisions on thebasis of law. I don't think he had a choice. New information emerged publiclythat had been there before, but there was new information. CHENEY: There's no new information. It's just not true. DIONNE: Emerged publicly -- people looked at it -- no, it waspublic for the first time. People looked at it... CHENEY; But that doesn't mean it's new. DIONNE: ... this raises serious questions.
CHENEY: It's five years old. DIONNE: The Justice Department can also have serious questionsabout what we now know is a very politicized Bush Justice Departmentand how it dealt with these cases. And so I think -- there is thisissue of the food chain, and I think that's why ultimately you can'tjust prosecute a couple of people and end it there. And so that's whyI think you're going to end up with some kind of a truth commission, astudy of this whole thing. Because we have got to figure out how todeal with it. (CROSSTALK) IFILL: Yes, I'm not convinced they're going to open up the wholecan of worms, but if you're a Democratic president and you are aDemocratically appointed attorney general, and you are holding yourhand as CIA inspector general's report which says -- I wrote this down-- "the enhanced interrogation techniques used by the agency under theCTC program are inconsistent with the public policy positions that theU.S. has taken regarding human rights."
Even if this has been investigated before, how do you as aDemocratically appointed attorney general and a Democratic presidentnot say let's take a look at this, even if it's a slippery slope asGeorge says? CHENEY: What you do is you say it has already been looked at. Imean, that's the piece of this...
DONALDSON: By whom? CHENEY: By career prosecutors. DONALDSON: In the Bush administration Justice Department. CHENEY: But, Sam, they were less political than Eric Holder, whois a political appointment. (CROSSTALK)
CHENEY: But the other point here that's important to look at...
DONALDSON: Had that 2004 report been made public and then theylook at it, the public looks at it and they say, all right, sodrilling by the guy's ear, perhaps raping a female member of hisfamily... CHENEY: First of all, OK, that is totally -- that is justinexcusable. DONALDSON: It's in the report.
CHENEY: It is -- nobody raped anybody and nobody...
DONALDSON: No, (inaudible) they threatened it. CHENEY: There is a big difference. But let me -- the otherpoint here to look at...
DONALDSON: Oh, if I threaten you but don't actually hit you,there's a big difference, but you can call me to court. (CROSSTALK)
STEPHANOPOULOS: The law said that the threats were illegal. Imean, it's against the law.
CHENEY: No, wait a second. That's not clear. And the standard-- we don't want to spend a whole panel here on the standard for thelegal investigation.
DONALDSON: Why not?
CHENEY: You guys have misstated the standard for the legalinvestigation here, and I would point you to Andy McCarthy's excellentpiece in National Review Online, which goes through what the standardis that the Justice Department should have applied here, which is thenotion that you need evidence, that you can move beyond thepresumption of innocence in a court of law, that torture occurred andthat is not here, and that was, as I said, it was looked at before.But the other point that is critical to me...
DONALDSON: Everyone except one person that I know of (inaudible)says torture and waterboarding is wrong.
CHENEY: The lack of -- waterboarding isn't torture. And we cango down that path. But the lack of seriousness here is important. (CROSSTALK)
STEPHANOPOULOS: I got to go to another question here. CHENEY: It also goes to the point about moving theinterrogations out of the CIA into the White House. And I think thatthe fact that the White House can't even tell us who is in charge ofthese interrogations now combined...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, they say that there has to be broadersharing, that's what everybody wants, the FBI, the CIA...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But I do want to get to the other question ofthe information we gleaned from all this, and whether it was -- it wasworth the interrogations that were conducted.
WILL: This is why my liberal friend here, the law of averageshaving caught up with him, has got something right. We ought to havea commission. Fred Hyatt in the Washington Post suggests thismorning, Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter, bring them down, set itup, and answer some factual questions.
For example, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was reticent. He waswaterboarded 183 times and became loquacious. Did it have somethingto do with that? And was he useful? Because whether or not thesetechniques are immoral or how immoral they are surely depends onwhether or not they work.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And how useful the information was, whether itcould have been gotten in other ways, these are big questions. (CROSSTALK)
DIONNE: Right, and because the CIA's own office of legal counselraised questions in its report about how effective these methods are,and the worst thing would be to do something wrong and have it beenineffective. DONALDSON: And (inaudible) say it saves lives, and that may be. STEPHANOPOULOS: If it saved lives. CHENEY: If? Hold on. If you read the documents that werereleased... (CROSSTALK) STEPHANOPOULOS: Sam, Liz, go ahead. DONALDSON: All right. I'm with Admiral Blair, who is our topintelligence guy. Supposedly everyone comes under him. He said hethought we did receive some useful information from these techniques.He then said, the part that's left out by people who take the firstpart, but in our relationship with the rest of the world and the waythe United States is viewed by the rest of the world, it was not worthit. We have lost more by those techniques than we gained. I am withAdmiral Blair. CHENEY: Well, I would suggest you read the documents in theirentirety.
DONALDSON: I read what he said.
CHENEY: In their entirety, the documents that were released,because in those documents it makes absolutely clear not only in theinspector general's report, page 91, that Khalid Shaikh Mohammedprovided information that was inaccurate and incomplete prior to beingwaterboarded, but also if you read the addendum to that document,which is an interview that was done with a senior CIA official, makesclear that that information could not have been gained through otherways, says that the techniques were invaluable and that they worked.The documents -- let me finish... DIONNE: It does not prove that waterboarding produced that. Itjust doesn't.
CHENEY: Guys, guys, the documents demonstrate conclusively thatthe enhanced interrogation program provided information that savedlives. Four former CIA directors including...
DONALDSON: Why did the Bush administration renouncewaterboarding in its last two years?
STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to have to continue this...
CHENEY: Dennis Blair said it worked. And the White House editedthat part out of his statement. (CROSSTALK)
STEPHANOPOULOS: We are out of time. I just say this one other-- the inspector general said -- the inspector general in the report,the inspector general said that finally it is a subjectiveinterpretation, which is probably why the commission is needed. You guys continue this in the green room. END