Dan Rather on the Rachel Maddow show
Maggie Mahar at Health Beat Blog gives a historical perspective to the passage of Healthcare Reform 2010 and Medicare 1965. Maggie’s comments are in the parenthesis in red on transcripts of Rathers and Maddow’s exchange.
Dan Rather on Presidents Obama, LBJ and HCR:
I saw Dan Rather on the Rachel Maddow show. Some people have suggested that today, the country is polarized the way it was in the 1960s. But Rather reminds us that when Congress passed Medicare in 1965, President Johnson was operating in a very different landscape. Reading this interview, one realizes what President Obama has been up against. He beings by observing that, if he succeeds, President Obama will be making history.
RATHER: “It will be the signature achievement of this first term, perhaps the only term, but a signature achievement of President Obama`s this term. And whether one likes it or not, disagrees with it or not, it takes up the line that started with Social Security, ran through Medicare and Medicaid, which was passed more than 40 years ago, 45 years ago, and it will be put in that category. [Rather is not saying that Obama will be a one-term president. But he is suggesting that even if he only has four years, he will have accomplished more than the vast majority of two-term presidents.-mm]
“And if it passes, and if it is put into effect, I expect it will be in the first paragraph of President Obama`s obituary, that he passed health care reform, partly because so many presidents — President Johnson was successful, but President…
MADDOW: When Lyndon Johnson was able to get Medicare passed in 1965, is there any useful comparison to make or contrast to draw between the political environment in which he was able to make that happen in `65, and the way — and the environment in which Obama has been able to presumably make this happen if he does it?
RATHER: Well, there are certainly a lot of contrasts. First of all, remember that President Johnson got this landmark legislation, Medicare and Medicaid, passed in the wake of the assassination of President Kennedy. He ascended to the presidency. And the country was aching to not only appear to be, but to be united. [this is very true–mm]
I have my doubts whether President Johnson could have gotten Medicare and Medicaid pass if it had not been for the assassination of President Kennedy and the mood the country was into after that. Then, the second thing, that there was — certainly it was political warfare, and the kind of no holds barred political warfare. But nothing like the polarization in Washington and nothing like the polarization in the country existed at that time.
RATHER: And –
MADDOW: I always think that — I look at the polarization we have now and I think oh every generation must think that they`re the most polarized time ever.
MADDOW: You think we are actually. . . . [here, one realizes how young Maddow is—mm]
RATHER: I think we are. This is the most polarized the country has been certainly since the 1960s over the Vietnam War, and I think even more so than then, and Washington is unquestionably more polarized.
Lyndon Johnson got Medicare and Medicaid passed, given the special circumstances in the wake of President Kennedy`s assassination, but he did so with some Republican support.
MADDOW: That`s right.
RATHER: The Republican Party was almost totally different. You had three wings of the Republican Party Lyndon Johnson was dealing with. You had the liberal Republicans, and they would call that people like Jake Javits, the senator from New York. You had moderate Republicans, many of them from the upper Midwest, and then you had self-described more conservative Republicans. [Yes, and the liberal Democrats were powerful in states like N.Y. –mm]
You had the three. That made it a totally different situation than today. The Republican Party was not completely totally united against it. It was, in the main, united against it, but you see the difference.
Whereas now the Republicans, whether — again whether you like it or not, they have been from a strictly political/practical standpoint, well disciplined, well organized and a total and complete absolute united front against health care. [He is right: The Republican party has become monolithic in a way that it never was. It’s easy to forget that it wasn’t always this way. Something very strange has happened within our government. mm]
Lyndon Johnson didn`t face that.
Also, . . . the Senate leadership had a lot of what we call the, quote, “old votes,” . . . Senate changed a lot in the early 1970s, but in this period in the 1960s when Medicare and Medicaid were passed, that — the seniority system was much stronger.
You had a lot of people who had been in the Senate and the House for a long time, some of them 35 to 40 years. And President Johnson himself had been a congressman and senator for a very long time. [The old bulls provided leadership. Some [and I’m including Republicans here) were even statesmen. Now, we have Mitch McConnell]
It was almost a completely different landscape from which President Obama is operating today. .
RATHER: . . . I`m — back from a trip to California and some other places in the country, the country is angry. This is as angry as I`ve seen the country. Republicans, Democrats, independents, mugwamps, whatever they are.. They`re really angry.
A lot of it springs from the recession, almost depression that we went through and a sense that we`re not all the way through it yet. And that anger is going to be interesting to see how it cuts in the November elections. Very, very interesting. [My guess is that many incumbents will lose their seats—Republicans as well as Democrats: Voters will say, “Throw the bums out”– mm.’]
Rush Limbaugh’s clone.
On a side note, has dumbass Olberman realized that everytime he rails against corporations that he is railing against the organization that gives movey to the government who then in turn decide how much of it Keith should be allowed to keep for his pay?
Interesting, Jay you should present to the group here your theory on the value of concentrating all wealth and capital in corporation, forget small business and prove that labor is worth nothing.
To hell with labor and the 95% of the population laboring, the corporation that is the source of all good.
And whether the sea is boiling hot………………
How old are you?
I’m old enough to have witnessed history that backs up Dan Rather’s insights. When I grew up in Upstate New York in the 1960’s, Rockefeller Republicans were mainstream social moderates and Jacob Javits was our Senator. Then in 1980, Ronald Regan defeated the liberal republicans in the presidential primary and forever changed the Republican Party. In 2008, while now living in Austin Texas, I left that party and became a precinct captain for Barak Obama’s campaign. At Democratic Party meetings, I met many former republicans who now support our president.
Dan Rather’s comments are right-on and Rachel’s doubts about the lesser partisanship of the 1960’s does indeed indicate her youthfulness, i.e. she was not a witness.
Today’s Republicans are very much like the Southern Democrats of the 1850’s trying to hang on to a broken ideology. Whereas today’s Democrats are very much like the Radical Republicans of that same era, embracing progressive change via government action to right our nation’s wrongs. I love it every time President Obama quotes Abraham Lincoln.
Exactly what I was driving at with this particular article from Maggie in the initial comments. Your picture betrays you and I too was one of those in green with rifle in hand on call for the protests in Washington This time period is of equal or greater strife and only about money and not life or limb as it was in the sixties.
Thank you for posting to us.
The current period doesn’t begin to rival the events and unrest observed from 1963 to 1973. It’s not in the same ballpark.
We live in the Age of Exaggeration.
MG, Of course you are right with regard to political street demonstrations, riots and so forth. This is a wise statement that is not really relevant to the Dan Rather topic.
Rather’s point, which I agree with, is that our politicians in congress, especially the Republicans, are much more unified, polarized and combative than in any time that I previously witnessed. During the VietNam war, which you refer to, there were many democrats who supported the war, e.g. LBJ, as well as other democrats opposed, e.g. Senator McCarthy.
The American people will always have a diversity of opinion and behavior. I think that healthy political parties have a similar internal diversity. Today’s Republicans, however, are homogeneous, and are presently determined to be a combative minority that may very well condem them to permanent status as a regional party.
For example, I expect the State of Texas to swing from Red to Blue within ten years, and sooner if we Democrats can figure out how to turn out the Hispanic vote. How can any Texas Hispanic support the current Republican platform? Pro-life is not enough. ObamaCare is a direct appeal to Hispanics in my opinion.
What do you how old are you? Jay made perfect sense with his point. The public sector takes from the private sector and since the private sector is the provider then its health is our number one concern in this country. Something we’ll be getting back to after we change the composition of our elected officials.
“For example, I expect the State of Texas to swing from Red to Blue within ten years, and sooner if we Democrats can figure out how to turn out the Hispanic vote.”
One way may be “immigration reform.” Increase the number of immigrants, because they may likely vote Democrat. It’s all about political power….
“ObamaCare is a direct appeal to Hispanics in my opinion.”
Because Hispanics like to get things “free?”
Rather is talking about the state of politics as it existed in 1965, when Civil Rights was still seen as mainly an issue of the South, when Vietnam was just starting to heat up, and before dissent became massive, before the sexual and drug revolution swept the middle classes, and before the rapid rise in general living standards of the post-war era came to an end. It was the era when the post-war Anti-Communist Liberal-Moderate optimistic consensus still held sway. It was in fact the last year of that consensus.
We are still living in the world created in the late sixties and early seventies. Rick Perlstein’s books “Before the Storm” and “Nixonland” are magnificient in telling this story and the dynamics of the current Conservative Movement and the roots of its popular support in the White Community, particularly in the South and interior West. President Obama was only elected with 43% of the white vote. And this is what they mean when they say “the People” don’t support him and his policies. Because their “people” don’t and they don’t think Black, Brown, and DFH Whites count or should even be allowed to vote. You hear it in the tone of resentment that some person of color might be getting some form of social insurance at their expense. It is the meme that Rush Limbaugh and now Glen Beck have mined so well.
Geezzz! We have MG making a point then rick confirming it.
Anyway, those who protested in the 60-70s are not the same group who are protesting today.
I overstated my case when I asked how ANY Hispanic could support the Republican platform. Obviously there are some republican and conservative Hispanics in Texas. My case rests on the current and trending Texas demographics. Only the state of California has a higher percentage of Hispanics according to the US Census. In Texas, non-Hispanic whites are less than 50% of the population. California is a solid Blue state. And given the continuation of current Texas demographic trends, Texas will become more like California.
Immigration reform is not required for Texas to eventually become a Blue state – Hispanic birth rates have been higher than non-Hispanic whites for many years and those Hispanic children are US citizens upon birth and inevitably reach voting age. The challenge for Texas Democrats is to facilitate political awareness, a sense of political responsibiltiy, and civic duty, that arises entirely from within the Hispanic community – on a par with that situation as it now exists within the Texas African-American community. Resistance to immigration reform from the Republicans, merely assists Democrats in that Republicans may more easily be cast as the ‘enemy’.
Moderate Republican such as Senator John McCain, have been forced by the narrow-minded national Republican party, to repudiate Hispanic-friendly immigration policy positions. This is an example of why I think that the Republican party is condemming itself to becoming a marginalized regional party. Eventually, Arizona will become a solid Blue state – I think.
To elaborate a bit why I think that ObamaCare is a direct appeal to Hispanics:
(1) Hispanics have a higher level of poverty and joblessness than average Americans, and universal coverage requirements will give Hispanics access to health care beyond what current emergency room procedures provide.
(2) Health insurance subsidies will be provided to those who can otherwise afford the required insurance. I believe that Hispanics will receive subsidies to a greater degree than the average American due to their releative lower incomes.
(3) Given higher birth rates, Hispanic mothers will more greatly benefit from pre-natal care that health insurance encourages.
and Steve refuting it:
“MG, Of course you are right with regard to political street demonstrations, riots and so forth. This is a wise statement that is not really relevant to the Dan Rather topic.”
Rather is addressing the politicians and not the unrest or the events of then. The politicians were more diverse in the sixties in their thoughts and beliefs. Today, Congress is polarized.
Not sure if you have read Joel Garreau’s “300 Million and Counting.” A nice little article in Smithsonan touching on your points about Hispanics. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/presence-oct06.html
“Nearly half of the nation’s children under 5 belong to a racial or ethnic minority. The face of the future is already in our schools: our kindergartens now prefigure the country as a whole, circa 2050—a place where non-Hispanic whites are a slight majority.”
The House on Sunday had shouters in the gallery to disrupt business in chambers. Many Repubs. members stood up to encourage the shouts. Mailed and faxed death threats to Stupak, Slaughter, and Frank spike. One congressman’s brothers gas line cut and received death threat. (mistaken address). It could get nastier if the Repubs let it.
In a democracy if one loses a vote one doesn’t threaten death to opponents.
Right. I lived 10 years in Miami starting in 1987. Dade county is majority Hispanic and the government there for years has been led by Hispanics, primarily those of Cuban descent, who are politically very active. To the degree that current Miami provides a glimpse of how the U.S. be like in the projected demographic future – I welcome it.
Now the Democrats in South Florida are splitting the Cuban voters away from solid support of the Republican party – neocon policy towards Cuba from the Republicans does not entirely offset the attractions of Democatic policies, especially among younger female Cubans.
The Republicans today are all about identity politics. In the 1950s and 1960s their support was much more broadly based. It was a Republican president, after all, who sent armed troops to ensure that a child could go to school in the face of local opposition. Modern Republicans are basically the right wing of the old GOP combined with the southern Democrats who formed the right wing of the Democratic party. The Republicans lost their left and center, and the Democrats lost their far right.
I remember being surprised when I learned as a child that a lot of Democrats were still the old party opposing Lincoln and not what I thought of as proper Democrats. That has changed. There are still moderate Democrats, but as the health care voting showed, there are NO moderate Republicans. Sorry, but when a party votes as a bloc, all of its members are at the same extreme.