This is a rush transcript of "Special Report With Bret Baier" from January 20, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN.-ELECT SCOTT BROWN, R-MASS.: I think we can do it better. And to just be the 41st senator and bring it back to the drawing board.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Heeding the particular concerns of the voters of Massachusetts last night, we heard, we will heed, we will move forward with their considerations in mind. But we will move forward for health care.
REP. ANTHONY WEINER, D-N.Y.: We as Democrats have to say, OK, we get the message. We can't keep moving on as if nothing happened in Massachusetts.
REP. BART STUPAK, D-MICH.: I know leadership has floated the idea over the weekend that let's just take the Senate bill and just vote on it in the House floor. I bet it wouldn't get 100 votes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, HOST: Some reaction to Scott Brown's big win in Massachusetts. And the president weighed in today in an interview with ABC. Here is part of what he said about health care reform. He said "I would advise that we try to move quickly to coalesce around those elements of the package that people agree on."
And about the overall impact of the election, he said "People are angry and they're frustrated, not just because of what happened in the last year or two years, but what's happened over the last eight years." So what about this? Let's bring in our panel, Steve Hayes, senior writer for the Weekly Standard, Juan Williams, news analyst for National Public Radio, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Charles?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, you know, the Democrats, starting with the president, want to explain it all away. First, he wants to explain away as anger against the previous administration, which is sort of a record for longevity of this line of blaming it all on George Bush.
But, even the idea that it's all the result of some kind of anger, inchoate, unthinking, emotional about the bad times is absurd. This is not a free-floating anger out there. It's quite specific. What's remarkable about the campaign that we had in Massachusetts is how specific the Republican was. He said "I'm going to stop health care." He said "I'm not going to allow a terrorist to get a lawyer in jail and Miranda rights." He said "I'm going to cut taxes, not raise them." It was extremely specific and extremely Republican and conservative. This was a center-right country even in Massachusetts repudiating a left agenda. This is not rocket science. It's about substance. It's not about anger. Every time the Republicans succeed, it's all about anger and irrationality. When you had the Gingrich revolution 16 years ago, it was called the year of the angry white male and Peter Jennings declared on the evening news that the country had thrown a tantrum, as if when conservatives win it can only be an expression of irrationality and emotionalism. Of course if Obama wins in '08, it's hope and change and peace and light and all the goodness in the American soul. This was an election about substance and the Democrats lost on substance.
BAIER: Juan, when you hear Democrat Bart Stupak say if they brought the Senate bill to the house floor they wouldn't get 100 votes, what do you think about that? Health care reform - as written - dead?
JUAN WILLIAMS, NEWS ANALYST, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: No. I think that Bart Stupak is saying that on the abortion issue he feels the Senate bill is unacceptable and he feels he can hold his votes and people who would not go along with the Senate plan.
Clearly, though, Nancy Pelosi has another idea, which is that she believes that she is exert sufficient pressure to win enough votes among the Democrats in the House to get this thing through. And she’s committed 100 percent to steaming ahead like a locomotive to get this done.
I was, you know...
BAIER: But you hear the president saying we should coalesce around the elements of the package that people agree on.
BAIER: There is a lot Republicans don't agree on in this package as written.
WILLIAMS: Republicans aren't part of this deal. Republicans opposed every element of it. There is little, unless you are talking here, Bret, about the possibility of getting Olympia Snowe in the Senate to make up for the fact that you have now lost the seat to the Republicans. The Republicans just aren't in the game.
So it's a matter of holding the Democrats together, and the problem is that the White House plan as advanced over the weekend was let's stick with the Senate bill and get the House to approve the Senate bill. What we heard from Stupak today is that's not going to happen.
Now, I would say though one thing very quickly, that Brown has now said, you know what, he is one vote to stop the health care bill as it's been proposed, but he thinks they should reopen it and have more discussions about different look at health care reform in this country.
I don't know if he is speaking the truth there, because I think if you reopen it, it's still — it's deader than it will ever be.
BAIER: Steve, what about the tone here and the White House kind of indicating that they are going to go populous from now on?
STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: It is remarkable when you look across sort of the landscape over the last 24 hours the comments from the Democrats, some of which you played there, shows a party in chaos and I think a White House in chaos. They don't quite know how to get this, they don't understand what this means.
The one thing that you do see from the White House as reported in the New York Times today, they have decided that they are going to remake Barack Obama as a populist. It doesn't make any sense, and it's not going to work.
This is the same guy who on Sunday mocked Scott Brown for driving a pickup truck. And talk about something that has resonance out in the country. It wasn't just that he mocked Scott Brown for driving a pickup and that he "said everybody can buy a pickup truck," "everybody can buy a truck," which suggests that Obama is looking at this strictly through a political prism as if he bought the truck, you know, for some kind of a prop, as if it was just something that you do to make an ad.
Scott Brown actually drove his truck. It had 201,000 miles on it when the campaign ended. And a lot of other people in the country drive trucks.
But it wasn't just what the president said. It was how he said it. He delivered that line, which he delivered more than once, as if were an inside joke, as if everybody knows, as if all of the smart people understand that trucks are sort of something to be laughed at.
That is going to, I think, follow him for months and months, and it's going to make his transition to Barack Obama the populist nearly impossible.
BAIER: There are some analysts like yourself who believe President Obama and candidate Obama had problem with this tone all along. Take a listen to this little sound bite.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Forget the truck. Everybody can buy a truck.
The Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.
They get bitter. They cling to guns or religion or antipathy towards people who are not like them, or the anti-immigrant sentiment or antitrade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Charles, fair?
KRAUTHAMMER: This is the Harvard faculty club. This is a guy who spent most of his adult life in liberal circles, and for him to play the populist is going to be hard.
Now, he tried it. The bank tax was invented over the weekend as a lifeline that supposedly might have helped Coakley. And he sprung it on the country in Boston, perhaps it helped her a bit. I'm sure that is what they are going to ride. They are going to spend the rest of the year running against Wall Street.
I don't think it's going to work because I don't think he is the man who can deliver it. And also, it has a tin sound when he says it. His insincerity in this is going to show.
WILLIAMS: Populist energy is driving right now American politics. At the moment it's coming from the right and it's anger at big government, intrusive government, the possibility of tax increases, much of it embodied in the health care bill.
But, there is no question in my mind that populist energy was also what drove anger and upset at George W. Bush and at the Republicans over the last eight years. And that's what helped to bolt Barack Obama from his status as one term Illinois senator.
KRAUTHAMMER: Bush was never an elitist, he never had image of that. In fact, he had the opposite. Obama has that image, and that's essentially a revelation of what he is inside. That's why it's going to be hard to play the role.
WILLIAMS: I don't think that going after the banks, going after the oil companies, saying that the big insurance companies have been absolutely gouging us, have been leading small business into bankruptcy, is going to be interpreted as anything but appealing to the people. Will it work for Obama? That is the question.
HAYES: The same insurance companies he was in bed with to make the health care bill.
WILLIAMS: To make the deal, OK, that's fair.
BAIER: All right, there was some heated exchanges today on Capitol Hill in hearings about terrorism. We'll talk about that and also how it translates with the Massachusetts race when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: The message we need to send in dealing with terrorists our tax dollars, our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop them and not lawyers to defend them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: That's Scott Brown on the issue of terrorism in his acceptance speech. He ran pretty strong on that issue in the bluest of blue states, Massachusetts.
We're back with the panel. Steve, what about that for Republicans and for this candidate?
HAYES: Well, it was a big issue. And I think it was an under-covered issue, actually. Eric Finstrom was a spokesman for the campaign told "National Review" that their polling, their internal polling showed that that, terrorist rights, terrorist rights issue, played bigger than health care in what appealed to voters.
I think when you look at what happened there, and you look at what happened today on Capitol Hill with the testimony of these four administration officials, basically said that they did not interrogate Abdulmutallab, the Christmas Day bomber, for intelligence, they interrogated him for prosecution.
And most of them were not contacted — the four of them were not contacted by the FBI agents on the ground to ask them how to treat this terrorist is a stunning revelation.
And the only reason the White House can be happy about what happened in Massachusetts is that it is providing nice cover for how stunningly incompetent the administration looked in these hearings today.
BAIER: Let's quickly play the sound bite from the hearing. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: I understand, Admiral Blair, that in response to Senator Collins you were not consulted as to what venue the Christmas bomber would be tried in, is that correct?
DENNIS BLAIR, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: That's correct, yes, sir.
MCCAIN: How about you, Mr. Leiter?
MICHAEL LEITER, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL COUNTERTERRORISM CENTER: No, I wasn't.
MCCAIN: Secretary Napolitano?
JANET NAPOLITANO, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: No.
BLAIR: When we put the HIG together, the main used for it we were thinking of was for when terrorists were captured overseas, and we did not think about that case in which a terrorist was apprehended, as this one was, in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: He went on to say ‘we'll do it better next time.’ That's the nation's top intelligence officer.
High value detainee interrogation group, that's the HIG, Charles. That's kind of a shocking statement. Blair later released just minutes ago a statement saying that the HIG is not fully operational yet.
KRAUTHAMMER: But that makes it worse. This is absolutely stunning. The administration on day one literally a year ago today said the president signed an executive order ostentatiously against torture. And involved in that was establishing a way to interrogate important detainees.
And that was establishing midyear this HIG, which is in the FBI, but the oversight is provided in the White House.
Now, we learned now a half a year later that the HIG isn't even in place, and secondly, what we just heard, that nobody had even thought of what happens if you capture a terrorist in the United States.
This apparatus involved hundreds, thousands of people and billions of dollars a year, and not one of them said what happens if we capture a terrorist in the United States? This is absolutely unbelievable.
The real scandal here is not that a guy with a bomb got on a plane. It can happen in any bureaucracy, administration. But the scandal is what happened after, treating him as an ordinary criminal.
WILLIAMS: According to the White House, they had 30 hours or more with Abdulmutallab, asking him everything they wanted to ask him before he got lawyered up.
Now, you can argue about whether or not he should have a lawyer, whether he should be treated in the civilian courts of the United States and all, but the fact is the questioning did take place.
And the second thing to say is, even if it was an issue for voters in Massachusetts, as Steve suggested, the fact is there was a poll out this week from ABC that indicated most Americans thought well of the president's handling of this Christmas affair and thought well of President Obama in general in terms of his ramping up his knowledge of handling of terrorism.
BAIER: Quickly, you were surprised to hear them say none of them were contacted by the Mirandizing?
WILLIAMS: That's shocking. I don't understand how you could go forward without Blair knowing. As you pointed out, he is our top intelligence official.
BAIER: We will leave it there, and there's much more on this. And we'll have another panel, I promise. That's it for this panel.
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