And so it ends, with a health-care vote expected this weekend.

By Peggy Noonan

Mr. Obama now routinely filibusters in interviews. He has his message, and he presses it forward smoothly, adroitly. He buries you in words. Are you worried what failure of the bill will do to you? I'm worried about what the status quo will do to the families that are uninsured . . .

Mr. Baier forced him off his well-worn grooves. He did it by stopping long answers with short questions, by cutting off and redirecting. In this he was like a low-speed bumper car. In the end the interview seemed to me a public service because everyone in America right now wants to see the president forced off his grooves and into candor on an issue that involves 17% of the economy. Again, the stakes are high. So Mr. Baier's style seemed—this is admittedly subjective—not rude but within the bounds, and not driven by the antic spirit that sometimes overtakes reporters. He seemed to be trying to get new information. He seemed to be attempting to better inform the public.

Presidents have a right to certain prerogatives, including the expectation of a certain deference. He's the president, this is history. But we seem to have come a long way since Ronald Reagan was regularly barked at by Sam Donaldson, almost literally, and the president shrugged it off. The president—every president—works for us. We don't work for him. We sometimes lose track of this, or rather get the balance wrong. Respect is due and must be palpable, but now and then you have to press, to either force them to be forthcoming or force them to reveal that they won't be. Either way it's revealing.

And so it ends, with a health-care vote expected this weekend. I wonder at what point the administration will realize it wasn't worth it—worth the discord, worth the diminution in popularity and prestige, worth the deepening of the great divide. What has been lost is so vivid, what has been gained so amorphous, blurry and likely illusory. Memo to future presidents: Never stake your entire survival on the painful passing of a bad bill. Never take the country down the road to Demon Pass.


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39 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Snowy
    Mar 19, 2010 @ 19:25:00

    I'm worried about what the status quo will do to the families that are uninsured . . .And presumably Peggy isn't?


  2. ken
    Mar 19, 2010 @ 21:03:00

    its not over until the fat lady sings,the vote on sunday is going to be hard,but this socialist manifesto still has to go back to the senate,if they could keep this up for another 7 1/2 months,they could start over again,and come up with a bill that all of america could live with,i just found out they try'd to stick obamas college freebies into this bill,maybe that will wake some people up to what this bill is all about.


  3. sjohnson
    Mar 20, 2010 @ 07:59:00

    Oh dear!! Not college freebies! God forbid that the ignorant masses of America should become educated!! By the way, Ken, I'm assuming that you will not avail yourself of the socialist, fascist, communist Medicare program when you turn 65, correct? I mean, gosh, that would make you a … a….oh yeah, a HYPOCRITE!


  4. sjohnson
    Mar 20, 2010 @ 08:07:00

    Furthermore, Ken, go to and watch the video where the people against the healthcare bill are interviewed. Even a narrow-minded person like you should be able to see that these people, perhaps including you, have no clue what is really in the bill, but by golly, they are going to protest it no matter what because Glen Beck and Limbaugh said they should!!! That is a very sad commentary of politics and education in America.


  5. Syrin from Wasilla
    Mar 20, 2010 @ 08:36:00

    President Obama has tons of words with which to misdirect the attention of the casual or less-educated observer. Clearly, in all of this, all Obama sees is a "healthcare bill" for which he'll get credit.
    If Baier caught a genuine side of Obama, Obama has zero concept of the actual details of the bill and how it will truly impact Americans. That's scary. It's downright frightening to think that Obama's going to rip apart nearly a fifth of our economy simply for a political win or to fulfill his ego to have a presidency that leaves a legacy. He doesn't care about helping anyone; if he did, he'd care enough to do it right.


  6. Syrin from Wasilla
    Mar 20, 2010 @ 08:40:00

    The simple truth is that you can’t add a trillion dollars to the budget and claim it’s “revenue neutral” unless you are raising taxes or cutting benefits somewhere else.Read more:


  7. Syrin from Wasilla
    Mar 20, 2010 @ 12:21:00

    "Keep your hands off my Medicare."
    sjohnson..As usual you leave me with something to ponder..
    Can my side (conservatives) continue to carry the banner of self reliance and free market, when they are clearly HYPOCRITES!?
    The idea that nearly a fifth of our economy for a political win ie;future legacy is very obvious to me. Is my concern misplaced?
    I'm with Peggy to a certain point about the interview, the president better be able to take the heat and know the issue. Could you imagine if that were Sarah? NO, let's NOT!!!
    However, if you're going to be confrontational with the POTUS, do it in a way that you'd actually get some action or maybe results.
    But Peggy is not seeing what could have resulted in having the president's ear in that format with the demographics of the viewers.
    I wonder where did Brett Baier suggest a positive aspect from the (R) side that might have put the president on the spot? In that, we could have heard the president say " I believe that aspect should be looked at immediately and considered " Obama was essentially grilled in my opinion. And, the reporter was looking for answers, I agree. But, to what questions I'm still trying to figuring out.


  8. ken
    Mar 20, 2010 @ 14:18:00

    and how many people will be going to college who have no idea what they're going to do with it,are you really that lazy,that scared of paying for what you get,if that passes,the colleges will be stuffed full of idiots,
    i have not been in a hospital in 40 years and if for some reason i do need one i will pay for the care i get,unlike the people that are getting pedicures,and massages on the government payroll,the u.s. has the best quality of care in the world ,it used to be france and england but they embraced socialized medicine and went down the toilet,which is what will happen if america goes down the same road.
    as far as the ''tea party'' people a poll done by cnn showed that most of them have at least two years of college,that puts them in the top 20%,that you can always find the darkside of any freedom movement shows off your bias then anything else.
    no,they don't know everything thats in the healthcare bill,thats just the problem,no one does,and according to nutty pelosi nobody needs to know whats in the bill until after its passed….get the idea,our elected reps are dictating to us,we no longer have a say or have a need to know what they are doing,maybe your happy being led by the hand but i will for one not allow myself be turned into a took a thousand years to get out of that and i don't want to go back to it.
    wake up,your freedoms are being taken away one by one.


  9. sjohnson
    Mar 20, 2010 @ 14:25:00

    So you explanation of why my college-educated daughter can't find a job and therefore has no insurance would be what????? I hope you thank God every day for your good health. If you ever have to pay completely out of your own pocket for medical treatment, you are in for a huge surprise. I suppose you believe there are "death panels" in the bill too. So, I'm guessing that you will never use Medicare because you are independently wealthy. Sure.


  10. ken
    Mar 20, 2010 @ 14:25:00

    its just not a trillion dollars,but even thats a lie,since when did any government boondoggle come in at the price they quated,its normally at least twice,and alot of times 3 to 4 times as much,but thats just the money,insisting that people buy into this bill or pay a fine or go to jail is insane,this is going to put alot of small buisnesses out of buisness ,this has been tried in france,england,canada,and has failed everytime ,its being tried in the state of mass. and no one likes it,and its bankrupt,this has a history of failure,why are the washington politicos embracing failure.this is dark,nothing but dark.


  11. ken
    Mar 20, 2010 @ 17:52:00

    i have no idea why your daughter is out of work if you want to explain her whole life story i might try a answer,i can get a passable ins.policy for $20 dollars a week,and it covers optical and dental. what i don't understand is why you and people like you want to make believe like the ins. companys are behind this,that they are want to get,their profit margins are the lowest in there ''death panels'' in the bill of course there are,rationing healthcare will be mandatory under a government mandate there is no way it couldn't be.
    i know many people that held down a seat for 4 years and did nothing with it,when you pay for something,when you work for something you value it,but when mommie and daddy or uncle sam pay for it ,it has no value,its just anothe bauble,putting the government in charge of yet another part of our lives is wrong in too many ways.


  12. sjohnson
    Mar 20, 2010 @ 18:39:00

    You're so full of crap with your talking points. The reality is that insurance companies ration care right now. My daughter fractured a bone in her foot and the insurance denied the shoe splint as unnecessary. WTF? Then there is the stupidity of their reasoning on other issues. Most insurance companies won't pay $500 for an IUD, but they will pay for a full-on pregnancy and delivery including high risk. Again WTF? You need to wise up to the realities of healthcare in America. For my daughter to continue her insurance under COBRA in our state, it would have cost her over $8000 a year. So while a "passable" policy in your state is $20 per week (impossible to imagine), the reality is quite different here. As for why my daughter can't get a job in spite of working since she was 16 and having multiple talents, there are no jobs, genius. Gee that was hard to figure out. And believe me, she isn't being picky and doesn't want to go on public assistance. The problem with you, Ken, is that your view of the world is so very limited. I can only guess that you evaluate everything from your very narrow life experiences and don't open yourself to the lives of others. Quite sad that.


  13. ken
    Mar 20, 2010 @ 19:01:00

    do you hear yourself,you sound like a snippy little girl,i don't know what a shoe spint is but if its considered extra,not neccesary to the healing process they probably don't cover it,as far as birth control,most ins. companys carry it, iud's are considered risky and every ten years they find out that they are poisoning and making girls sterile,so they stopped covering the last three years i've had coverage in two different states[vermont and florida] and both were about twenty bucks.
    your daughter went and got a 4 year degree,in what,there are no jobs for three reasons,there are 11 million mexicans feeding off this country,everything we buy has stamped in china on it,and obama is trying to rewrite the whole american economy,so stop being a whining little girl,and vote with your head,not your socialist heart.i have been out and about longer then you have been alive,you like most socialists no nothing about life,just the fact that you think uncle sam should be your mommy and daddy is the proof of that.


  14. sjohnson
    Mar 20, 2010 @ 19:43:00

    OMG you ignorance regarding IUDs is astounding. I'm not even going to rebutt your remarks as "you can't cure stupid." As for the Mexicans, the majority of them are doing the work that no white American will do, namely pick produce. If we ever have to pay minimum wage for our fruit and veggies to be picked, we will see the cost rise astronomically. Instead of only looking at how many illegal Mexicans are in America, why don't you look at the whole picture? Broaden your view, man. I lived in the salad bowl of America and I saw exactly zero white people picking in the fields for the fourteen years I was there.


  15. sjohnson
    Mar 20, 2010 @ 23:05:00

    sjohnson wrote: Yesterday ReplyOMG you ignorance regarding IUDs is astounding. I'm not even going to rebutt your remarks as "you can't cure stupid." As for the Mexicans, the majority of them are doing the work that no white American will do, namely pick produce. If we ever have to pay minimum wage for our fruit and veggies to be picked, we will see the cost rise astronomically. Instead of only looking at how many illegal Mexicans are in America, why don't you look at the whole picture? Broaden your view, man. I lived in the salad bowl of America and I saw exactly zero white people picking in the fields for the fourteen years I was there.Your comment regarding my age is hilarious as you have no idea how old I am, but that is typical of you pulling "facts" out of your ass. I think Uncle Sam should support me? Says who? You the ass-hat? I have worked since I was 12 years old. I roll out of bed at 4AM every day and go to work at my full-time job. So spew your venom at someone else as you are on the wrong track here.


  16. ken
    Mar 21, 2010 @ 08:30:00

    your statement that mexicans are doing jobs that whites wont do about describes you,so whats the story here are you black or spanish,most of the entry level jobs are being sucked up by spanish,wether its in fast food,factorys,or any other job,your daughter your so proud of saying was working at 16 would most likely not have gotten a job here in florida,i lived in farm country vermont and if some farmer brought in mexicans to work,they were reported as soon as possible,then withen a year the farmer met with a horrible hunting seems to cure the problem real quick. picking strawberries or tobacco or in florida used to be a right of passage,for 14 to sixteen year olds,that no longer exists,thanks to your poor mexican ideas.


  17. Inside_Passage
    Mar 21, 2010 @ 08:52:00

    Cheap produce is not even a remotely acceptable justification for violating United States law and insulting everyone who has come to and worked in this country legally.


  18. sjohnson
    Mar 21, 2010 @ 09:55:00

    I am neither black nor of hispanic/latino desent. I'm rather unclear on what my ethnicity has to do with this argument. My daughter worked as a lifeguard and swim instructor, so I'm not sure what your point is about her. Now as for your whining about Mexicans taking all the fast food jobs, are you talking about illegal Mexicans? If they are illegal and you have proof, why aren't you turning them in to INS? Also, it has been my experience that the Mexicans who come up illegally from Mexico are willing to work much harder and are much more dependable than most American teens. That certainly gives them an edge in the job market. It has also been my experience as a teacher that the Mexican students who arrive in my classroom are far and above more respectful to teachers and appreciative of an education than Americans are. There is much that our teens can learn from them. Now, with all that being said, I do not condone illegals coming to our country; however, I appreciate that they are doing jobs legal Americans don't want to do, and they are doing those jobs well. Your venom is misplaced though, as the real culprits are the business owners who hire them, and those, dear boy, are Americans. If the agriculture and construction owners refused to hire undocumented workers, do you think we would have such an influx of them?


  19. ken
    Mar 21, 2010 @ 11:01:00

    if what you just posted is honestly how you feel about this you are a fool,much like the 500 people who turned up looking for a job the day after the mexicans working in a meat packing plant were deported,they are taking jobs away from far as their work ethics,they quality of work sucks,let me repeat that,their quality of work sucks,i've seen it on construction sites,factorys,and in restauarants,where they sure are rude and not able to answer in english,not to mention the times i've come across some mexican who swears he ''no understand english'' whenever a question is posed to them.i've seen whole consruction sites empty out when some cheap bastard try'd to bring in mexicans,i've seen farmers put out of buisness because they tried to save a few dollars,not to mention every dollar that mexicans have sent across the border never to be seen again,unless of course your talking about drug money,the illegal aliens in this country are a open wound that needs to be stiched shut,quickly.


  20. sjohnson
    Mar 21, 2010 @ 13:28:00

    Well, I live in a border state, and all I can say is the reality here is different than yours. It is as I have stated. I suggest that you stop flinging hatred around you like a wet dog shaking water off and try to think of some positive strategies for dealing with the problem. Ranting and raving accomplishes exactly nothing except to spread hate and discontent. And frankly, Ken, you do a tremendous amount of spreading hate and discontent without suggesting workable, humane solutions to problems. What puzzles me is that you profess to be Christian. The Christianity I practice requires kindness and caring about my neighbor(in every sense of the word). It requires compassion and forgiveness. I see none of that in your words. Perhaps you are a kind and caring person in face to face encounters, but all I see here is hate and malice and no solutions. It is difficult for me to understand that kind of hatred in anyone, Ken. Hatred is a major time suck and it eats away at your soul piece by piece. There is a great deal more joy in life and personal peace in finding ways to understand another persons point of view. Finding common ground is much more gratifying than hurling venom.


  21. ken
    Mar 21, 2010 @ 15:22:00

    i suggest you stop finding ways to sell out your country,i know many people who live in new mexico,texas,nevada and n.carolina.your hatred for this country and every reason it was founded is expressed in every comment,your complete disregard for law,morality and common decency is also in every comment,your fear of freedom is a stench that i can smell all the way over hear.your protection of people that have one thing in mind when they cross our borders is sickening,they have no desire to enjoy american freedoms,they want money,they laugh at your bleeding heart stupidity,your just another anglo women that will allow them to have their free ride,to spit on american values then when they go back across the border they will have a good laugh at the silly little american girl that they stole from,if it wasn't for the federal government,texes,nevada,new mexico,california,and florida would already be broke thanks to the 20 million illegal aliens that have poured over the border,so you keep helping the illegals that are not here for american freedoms,who are not here to make this country better and stonger,who have no care for the united states,you keep protecting people that are here to make money then send it back home,your hatred for america is their for anyone to see,i don't know what she did to you,but you sure are working for her destuction. no need to reply, your filth is falling on deaf ears.i like my country despite what you socialists are doing to it……


  22. sjohnson
    Mar 21, 2010 @ 16:15:00

    Drinking again, Ken? What a sad parody of a life you are. However, you are entitled to your opinion no matter how misguided yours may be. I hope that you are able to eventually find some happiness and peace in your life. Shalom.


  23. Inside_Passage
    Mar 21, 2010 @ 19:31:00

    In case you hadn't noticed, our country is suffering from a severe recession, people trying desperately to find jobs even as sellout corporations take away their jobs and send those jobs overseas. There are no "jobs Americans won't do". Sure, it's true they'd rather not do them, but credit your fellow Americans with at LEAST the decency to work to support their families. They're every bit as hardworking as an illegal when it comes down to feeding their kids.Illegal aliens don't just enjoy an edge in low-paying low-skill jobs, they destroy local competition at it, and it is only in part to do with the fact that they're hard workers. Credit where it's due – I've worked with illegals (finding out only afterward they weren't here legally) and know they are every bit as willing to bust moves for their families. They certainly work harder than teens, but honestly… kids don't have families to support unless things are really bad. Back to that competitive edge – no American worker can beat an illegal competitively when the illegal is willing to accept rock-bottom sub-minimum wage earnings to do the same job. That's a radically unfair edge, and it's doubly unfair when you consider that not only that, but the illegal alien through no fault of their own is unable to contribute to society. They aren't taxed, and their money returns to the economy only peripherally.Sure, they're only partly to blame – the biggest problem is unethical employers willing to exploit foreigners at the expense of their own countrymen just for their profit margin. It needs to be cracked down on, and cracked down on hard. But so does illegal immigration. Not only is it unfair to Americans who build and support this society, whose taxes pay for the infrastructure, but it is an insult to every single person first generation or fourth who LEGALLY immigrated to this country and worked to support their families.Our borders need to be secured and illegal aliens dealt with in a firm and uncompromising hand. No amnesty, no imprisonment, just go home. If you want to come to this country, do it the way everyone else does. Get a visa, or immigrate.And you know what? I don't even have a problem with the USA assisting them in this. Guest worker programs are a keen idea as long as that industry is regulated with an iron hand.


  24. sjohnson
    Mar 21, 2010 @ 19:39:00

    "…just go home…" That is the current "catch and release" program the INS has in place. If the government ramped up the penalties to businesses for hiring illegals, that hiring would diminish. The government has to make it not worth it to hire the illegals. I blame us. I don't blame the people coming from a violent, poor country and trying to find a better life for their kids. They are desperate, and when they can't do it legally, the do it any way they can. I have a student whose family has come her legally and ten years later they haven't achieved citizenship. They own several businesses that they started from scratch and hire a number of people. This family is good for our country, but they still can't get their citizenship. There is a lot wrong with immigration, but I seriously doubt that we could secure our borders. If there were no jobs for illegals, they wouldn't be coming across the border.


  25. Syrin from Wasilla
    Mar 21, 2010 @ 22:14:00

    Very thoughtful points have been made from all perspectives. I've learned quite a bit and appreciate the input on this subject.
    sjohnson.. How correct you are. This is the corner stone to how to fix it..
    The government has to make it not worth it to hire the illegals.
    Inside Passage mentioned that our current immigration policies are an insult to every single person first generation or fourth who LEGALLY immigrated to this country and worked to support their families.
    Personal Memory of my Grandfather (Poppa). He came to America from Kiev, Russia with parents and sisters. His family had "much paperwork" as he would say, to fill out and have on person or be provided ahead of arrival to the US Government. They were just avoiding a revolution, is all..
    Red October or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917.
    He met and married a polish woman new to the country in 1925. Proceeded to make a life in Chicago,Ill. My grandparent's raised 4 children. My dad was born in 1933, he's the third boy and a sister after him. He's the first generation American to be blessed by the opportunity given. They did it by the book, within the immigration law established. We would have it NO other way.. It was also during the time of a mass immigration in to the US. How many people during that time slipped under the wire so to speak?
    My grandmother (Bubbie) To help the household financially survive, took in washing, and did cooking for some of the older tenents in their buliding. My grandfather sold apples on a street corner and than newspapers.
    But, finally became a barber and had a chair in the very prestigious Drake Hotel. He actually was quite important, he held a razor to Al Capone's neck daily for years….
    I still want to believe that becoming an American citizen is the ultimate goal for many immigrants.


  26. Syrin from Wasilla
    Mar 21, 2010 @ 23:26:00

    Your points are well taken on the healthcare and immigration
    Insisting that people buy into this bill or pay a fine or go to jail…. is insane. Did your representitive know what was in this bill or vote for this bill?
    I agree with your three reasons, there are many feeding off this country, everything we buy has stamped in China on it, and this rewrite is nearly a fifth of our economy.
    Ken, however, NO one hate this country or wants her destruction…no one here is a communist or socialist, so please quit referring to us as that.
    Have you ever heard these sayings?A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute. An angry man stirs up dissension


  27. sjohnson
    Mar 22, 2010 @ 07:07:00

    Fining people for not buying health insurance when they don't have two pennies to rub together is obsurd. It makes as much sense as my county putting parents who don't have a job and therefore can't pay child support in jail. WTF?


  28. ken
    Mar 22, 2010 @ 12:56:00

    ''if there was no jobs for illegals they wouldn't be here'' are you really this blinded by idealogy,the unemployment number is10% there are 12 million illegal aliens in this country,you do the math.


  29. ken
    Mar 22, 2010 @ 13:06:00

    my rep. is young from florida,they would have fed him to the sharks if he voted for this socialist bill,i read your reponse to inside passage,i would have liked to talk to your ''poppa' and heard his opinion on what the congress just did,cominng from a country that got destroyed by socialists,this would most likely scared and angered him.
    compromise and a wait and see attitude is what has gotten this country to this point,it needs to stop ,americans need to get out of their lazy-boys and stop this insanity,the democratic party died last night,it is in all ways the socialist party of america,pelosi's evil little giggle spoke for the whole socialist party.


  30. sjohnson
    Mar 22, 2010 @ 19:46:00

    12 million? Really? Yesterday you said 20 million, and two days ago you said 11 million? You seem to be unencumbered by facts. Peace, buddy.


  31. ken
    Mar 22, 2010 @ 19:52:00

    there are over 20 million spanish that came into this country illegally,there are roughly 12 million that are still here illegally,either your playing stupid, or your just not playing.either way they are solely responsible for taking jobs that america needs,if obama has any love for this country he would ask them to leave


  32. sjohnson
    Mar 22, 2010 @ 19:55:00

    Hahahahahah! They're still here because Obama hasn't asked them to leave? That's the only reason. Well, gee, he better get to it! As for stupid, you're (notice the spelling, genius?) the one with poor communication skills. You're the one who doesn't follow any of the conventions of the language of this country. Furthermore, you are the one who hurls your verbal vomit without discretion, so you should be more discerning when you call someone else stupid. You've been stuck on stupid for a long time. Namaste.


  33. ken
    Mar 22, 2010 @ 20:13:00

    this invasion of money seeking mexicans has happened before,and everytime the country has had a ''economic downturn'' the sitting president has asked them to leave,care to venture a quess at what direction obama will take.


  34. sjohnson
    Mar 22, 2010 @ 21:18:00

    Care to venture a guess at what direction the illegals will take when "asked" to leave? Be realistic. Dia dhuit.


  35. ken
    Mar 22, 2010 @ 21:28:00

    do you have any idea on how many people would enjoy packing their bags for realistic.


  36. ken
    Mar 22, 2010 @ 21:29:00

    look above for the truth.


  37. sjohnson
    Mar 22, 2010 @ 21:31:00

    I look above for the truth several times every single day.


  38. ken
    Mar 22, 2010 @ 21:41:00

    the last free ride they will get,a free ride home,se habla?


  39. sjohnson
    Mar 23, 2010 @ 04:21:00

    Sounds like a great idea, Ken. I wonder why it hasn't worked before now? Sigh…


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