Wishful Thinking on Obama-Care and Alan Simpson, Undeniable Conservative

Hopeful on health care? Reporter David Kirkpatrick on the Times' latest "Political Points" podcast: "And if they capture Osama bin Laden we might actually get a health-care bill this year."
Sam Roberts and David Kirkpatrick were joined by White House correspondent Peter Baker and Washington reporter Jackie Calmes on the Times' latest "Political Points" podcast on Thursday.

A discussion seven minutes from the end on the recent capture in Pakistan of Taliban chief Mullah Barader morphed into what sounded like wishful thinking that the Democrats would pass some form of Obama-care this year:

White House correspondent Reporter Peter Baker: "I mean, look at what happened with President Bush and the surge in Iraq. There are some people who will argue the surge had nothing to do with what happened in Iraq. That may or may not be the case, but the fact of the matter is that as violence came down so dramatically that did change the nature of the discussion even today."

Host David Kirkpatrick: "And if they capture Osama bin Laden we might actually get a health-care bill this year."


One minute from the end, Jackie Calmes lamented the increased polarization and routine use of the filibuster in Congress, and revealed a labeling disparity:

Jackie Calmes: "The Republican Party really is a different party now. I mean, the Republican co-chairman of Mr. Obama's [deficit commission is Alan Simpson, who was the No. 2 Senate leader in the '80s and early 90's. No one ever would have called Alan Simpson anything but a conservative, but by today's standards he's actually a moderate. And Republicans now are not only are they more doctrinaire ideologically, anti-tax and conservative across the board, but they're also at a point in this election year where they're trying to court the Tea Party movement. So they're all the more interested in remaining very, very ideologically conservative."

My MRC colleague Rich Noyes informed me that the former Wyoming Sen. Simpson, who loved to tweak the right-wing, earned a lifetime rating of 78 from the American Conservative Union upon his retirement in 1996 - certainly right-of-center, but not necessarily an undeniably conservative record.

Yet on Wednesday Calmes described retiring Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh as a "centrist," even though his lifetime ACU rating is 22.5. In other words, even though Simpson was just as far from being a perfect conservative (100 points) as Bayh at 22.5 was from being a perfect liberal (0 points), Simpson is called an undeniable conservative, while Bayh is a "centrist."