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Explain that, Lehrer said to Shields. Fat chance, our analysts said
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EXPLAIN THAT, HE SAID! Explain that, Lehrer said to Shields. Fat chance, our analysts said: // link // print // previous // next //

Explain that, he said: Your DAILY HOWLER keeps getting results!

This morning, in one of her rare breaks from custom, New York Times columnist Gail Collins doesn’t discuss silly inane utterly pointless amusing sex scandals. Truth to tell, she doesn’t have a lot to say about proposed health reform, and she of course offers her mandated jibes about silly Dennis Kucinich. (You know? The former mayor of Cleveland? The long-time congressional rep? The two-time presidential candidate? You know? That laughable fellow?) But at least, health reform is pretty much the only thing she discusses today. Your HOWLER keeps getting results!

But right up to this very moment, do you understand what will happen if the House votes “aye” tomorrow? This is the way Lady Collins describes the events which may be about to occur:

COLLINS (3/20/10): On Sunday, the House is expected to finally vote on the bill that the Senate approved on Christmas Eve after a debate so endless that the wiped-out majority leader, Harry Reid, initially voted “no” by mistake. If it passes, it theoretically goes to the president. In the real Congressional world, there are still major complications involving a second bill making changes in the first one, under parliamentary procedures so abstract that they verge on the metaphysical.

That would bounce back to the Senate, where the Republicans are vowing to find some way to stretch the process out even longer.

See there? If the House votes aye tomorrow, the original Senate bill “theoretically” goes to the president! Go ahead—you’re allowed to laugh.

The bill “theoretically” goes to Obama! Do you have any idea what that means? (Do you think Collins does?) Our questions: Does the original Senate bill go to Obama or not? If he signs it, does it thereby become law, whether the additional package of changes is approved in the Senate or not?

Are you sure you know the answers to those questions? We’ll be frank. We’ve read so many non-explanation explanations, we’d have to say we do not.

Something similar happened last night on the NewsHour, which is packaged, spun and sold as our highest-IQ TV program.

“Explain that,” Jim Lehrer said to Mark Shields, speaking about this very matter. Thus encouraged, Shields brought the eternal note of confusion in. Go ahead—read the chunk of the transcript we’ve posted below! Our questions: If the House votes yes tomorrow, will the original Senate bill be signed by Obama? Will it thereby pass into law, no matter what happens after that in the Senate? And would anyone have the slightest idea from perusing this web of confusion?

SHIELDS (3/19/10): I mean, Democrats on the Hill...were astonished that [Obama] was still talking about going to Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand. That’s something he will have plenty of time to do—if this goes down, he will have time to be a world traveler, because he won’t have much of a domestic agenda to push.

And he’s got to sign the bill as soon as it passes, and then push the Senate—

LEHRER: Yes, explain that.


LEHRER: Yes, the—this is a rec—Yes, go ahead. I won’t—

SHIELDS: This is the Senate—this is the Senate-passed bill. You can only use reconciliation on an enacted law, a law that has been passed. So, you have to pass this into law. And so—

LEHRER: So the president has to sign it. It’s like any other—yes.

SHIELDS: As soon as the House passes it, the president has to sign it. The changes that the House make then go to the Senate to be acted upon. The Republican strategy in the Senate is to delay. And, if you delay with amendments, a couple of hundred amendments, it can take you into the Jewish holiday. And that is— that’s a killer, I mean, because that ends the whole thing.

And, so, he has to be here. And as soon as it does—if it does pass, finally, to be able to make the case to the nation what this is about, why we should be proud of what we have done.

It proves—it would prove, in a wonderful way that the system in Washington is, which is deadlocked and can’t do anything, has done something, has done something big and large, that presidents since Teddy Roosevelt have been talking about.

LEHRER: All right, now let’s look at it from the other side, David. Let’s say, here again, for discussion purposes, it passes and eventually goes. What do the—what are the politics for the Republicans, who unanimously oppose this all the way? How do they handle this?

“Explain that,” the hapless Lehrer said. After which, confusion reigned:

According to Shields, the president has to sign the Senate-passed bill as soon as it passes the House. Then, he has to push the Senate to enact the changes the House made to that original bill. “The Republican strategy in the Senate is to delay,” Shields then said. And if they can delay things right into the Jewish holiday? “That’s a killer,” Shields explained, “because that ends the whole thing.”

Moments later, Lehrer added to the confusion, imagining, “for discussion purposes,” that the bill “passes and eventually goes” (our emphasis). And no, none of this is any clearer if you watch these bozos on tape. (To do so, just click here).

Question: If the House votes aye tomorrow, will the original Senate bill become law, regardless of happens to the package of changes? (This would include the “Cornhusker kickback,” of course.) Easy! According to Collins, that original Senate bill will “theoretically” go to Obama! And according to the hapless Shields and Lehrer, the president will have to sign the original Senate bill right away—but subsequent delays in the Senate could “end the whole thing.” Alas! As you review these inept explanations, you are reviewing the work of deeply incompetent upscale elites. And let’s be clear: This is only one of the many aspects of this debate they have been completely unable to explain.

Example: Do you understand another conundrum these bozos constantly promulgate? Here it is: Debate on the package of changes is limited to twenty hours in the Senate—but Republicans can propose unlimited amendments. Do you understand that apparent contradiction? Pundits constantly churn that formulation. Rather plainly, they suggest the GOP could pretty much offer amendments forever, without seeming to notice the confusion they have thereby introduced. (One example, out of a million: Sherrod Brown introduced this confusion on Monday night. Our Own Rhodes Scholar didn’t notice.)

Final question: Do you think Collins understands what will happen if the House votes “aye” tomorrow? Do you think Lehrer knows? As best we can tell, Collins spends the bulk of her time mooning about insipid sex scandals. Based on performance, Lehrer seems to spend all his off-air time writing his bus-stop novels.

In reality, these people are six- and seven-figure Potemkins. They play major journalists on TV—but in truth, they can’t explain sh*t. They can’t explain these bills’ abortion provisions. They can’t explain procedural matters. They certainly can’t explain your nation’s massive over-spending on health care. Nor do they care to try.

Alas. These cardboard cut-outs can’t explain sh*t—and they seem happy to prove it.