By Frank James

Who needs a cup of strong coffee in the morning when you can hear a boisterous interview like the one NPR host Steve Inskeep had with the colorful Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele?

Steve's spirited discussion with Steele sprung from the RNC chair's Washington Post op-ed. In it he explained why Republicans support a "Seniors' Health Care Bill of Rights" which opposes President Obama and Congressional Democrats' proposal to partly pay for a health-care overhaul by finding savings in Medicare.

Steve pounced on the seeming inconsistency of Steele criticizing government-run anything, which he did, then asserting that government regulation could solve the problems in the private health-insurance market.

An excerpt:


STEELE: Sure there are issues in the insurance market that we could regulate a little better and that we can control better to maximize the benefits to consumers. That's something that, yeah, we can rightly reform and fix.

(Steve pounces)
STEVE: Wait a minute, wait a minute. You would trust the gov-ern-ment (Steve draws out the word for emphasis) to look into that?
STEELE: No, I'm talking about private, I'm talking about citizens, I'm talking about...
(Luckily for Steele, Steve interjects before Steele can finish, giving the RNC chair a little more time to try and escape the logic trap he talked himself into.)
STEVE: Who is it, you said that's something that should be looked into. Who is it that should look into that?
STEELE: Well, who regulate the insurance markets?
STEVE: That would be the government.
STEELE: Wait a minute. Hold up. You're doing a wonderful little dance here and you're trying to be cute but the reality of this is very simple. I'm not saying the government doesn't have a role to play. I've never said that. The government does have a role to play, the government has a very limited role to play.
STEVE: Mr. Chairman, I respect that you feel I'm doing a dance here. (Steele laughs). I just want you to know that as a citizen I'm a little confused by the positions you take because you're giving me a very nice, nuanced position here.
STEELE: It's not nice and nuanced, I'm being very clear...

A debate over the word nuance ensued. Again, a very lively start to the day.

categories: Morning Edition

9:30 - August 27, 2009