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ABC's Roberts: People Will Be Thrilled by Health Bill Once They 'Understand' It, Hails Reid

"There's a lot in" the health care bill as it now stands - even without the "public option" or expanded Medicare - "that people are going to like" and a "lot of people are going to like a whole lot once they see what's in it," ABC News veteran Cokie Roberts contended on Sunday's This Week as she blamed Democratic messaging, not the substance, for declining support: "I think the Democrats lost control of the argument - the message - and that's why the polls are as they are."

If the public just understood all the great things in it, she scolded, they'd realize the Christmas gift they're getting from those Democrats: "It's just a question of understanding it and the Democrats should have been getting that out there more." As if hey haven't had the news media on their side. Amongst the wonderful benefits: "For he first time" there will be "totally paid-for long term care insurance." Totally paid for by whom?

Roberts soon praised Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's deal-making and payoffs: "The person that I have really new-found respect for is Harry Reid, who just has this Senate in session relentlessly until they do this."She they told viewers it reminded her of what Jamie Whitten, "the long-time Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, used to always say." Affecting a slow Southern drawl, Roberts recited his words: "'The only way the Senate can work is by unanimous consent or exhaustion.'" Roberts spun back to hailing Reid: "And he is exhausting them into passing the bill."

Apparently, Roberts' admiration for Whitten's insight is undiminished by the fact Whitten was a segregationist Democrat who fought civil rights bills.

Cokie Roberts, during the roundtable on the Sunday, December 20 This Week, starting just after George Will pointed out that polls show a majority opposed to the health reform plans being argued about in the Senate:

I think the Democrats lost control of the argument - the message - and that's why the polls are as they are. If anybody actually looked at this bill, which has not been easy to do, but now you can, you would see, if you are someone who is dissatisfied with the insurance that you're getting now, or not getting any insurance now, you would see a bill that is basically a federal framework for health insurance for everybody for the first time ever and that will be basically a trillion dollar health bill - that a lot of people are going to like a whole lot once they see what's in it.

For the first time, it's got some long term care in it, which everybody is desperate for once as the population gets older. It's paid for, totally paid-for long term care insurance. So, I think that there's a lot in the bill that people are going to like. It's just a question of understanding it and the Democrats should have been getting that out there more....

The person that I have really new-found respect for is Harry Reid, who has just this Senate in session relentlessly until they do this and you know, it reminded me of Jamie Whitten, the long-time Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, used to always say [affecting Southern drawl] "the only way the Senate can work is by unanimous consent or exhaustion." And he is exhausting them into passing the bill....

I think the Republicans in the long run are making a mistake here, that right now this bill is unpopular, I suspect it will end up eventually - it's not going to happen right away - but eventually it will be popular and that they will look like obstructionists....

- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center