Week In Review With Daniel Schorr

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This week legislation to overhaul the health care system stalled in Congress, Judge Sonia Sotomayor took one step closer towards confirmation and violence flares up again in Iran. Host Scott Simon reviews the week in news with NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr.


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

This week, legislation to overhaul the health care system stalls in Congress. Judge Sonia Sotomayor seems one step closer toward confirmation. And unrest flares up again in Iran.

NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr joins us. Hello, Dan.


SIMON: And the House of Representatives, of course, was not able to get a health care bill passed before its August recess. Not certain how far the Senate will get before it heads off to recess a week from now. What kind of reversal does this represent for an administration that had hoped to have something all locked up before people went off for recess?

SCHORR: Well, this is a rather major reverse for a president whose eloquence has carried him very far up until now, and even in this past week, you know, he's gone out to Raleigh, North Carolina, one place after another, and with great patience explains a very complicated subject. But his approval ratings are going down and he has reached this point where he said that he intended to really want the bill passed by this August recess time, and it's not passed by either chamber by August recess time. It is a big thing.

SIMON: I mean a few months ago the administration suggested that if it didn't pass before August recess, they might lose a kind of critical sense of urgency.

SCHORR: Right.

SIMON: So what happens to that sense of urgency and the debate now?

SCHORR: So what happens now is that the members of Congress go to their home states, their home districts. There'll undoubtedly be long, long discussions as to what's in the bill, what's not in the bill, what does it do. And the administration intends to keep the thing in motion, hoping that they can talk over the heads of people in Congress to their constituents and force them to come back in a more cooperative mood.

SIMON: Because although the president's approval ratings have slipped, they still are higher than the approval rating of Congress at this point, aren't they?

SCHORR: That's right, but that's not very hard to do. (Unintelligible) the president also has done is to lower his sights. He used to talk about health care reform. He's now talking about health insurance reform, which is a much more limited thing. So this president is beginning to show the second of his talents. One is eloquence, and when eloquence doesn't work, a manner of retreating in one way or another, so he ends up with something, but we don't know yet what.

SIMON: Senate Judiciary Committee this week endorsed Judge Sonia Sotomayor to be the next Supreme Court justice of the United States. Pretty much a party line vote except, notably, Senator Graham, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina…


SIMON: …voted for her confirmation. Any doubt the full Senate will confirm her?

SCHORR: There does not seem to be any doubt that this full Senate will confirm her. All the discussion over this weekend is simply about how many votes will she get from Republicans - seem to be five or six or maybe seven. This is an interesting problem for Republicans. You want a party base or you want a rising Hispanic vote? Democrats seem to be more or less, almost all in the party, voting for her, and after all these weeks and weeks of toil and trouble and turmoil, apparently this thing is coasting toward a finish.

SIMON: President had some friends over for a beer the other night. How did that go?

SCHORR: How did that go? Well, first of all, I'm glad to see the New York Post agrees with me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: As they so often do, Dan.

SCHORR: The Post agrees with me when I said that if you have a summit over beer, what do you call that? Would that be called a brouhaha? So I thought about that (unintelligible). Leaving that aside, what did this all accomplish, these past two weeks? It managed to surface again the fact that we have not yet reached a post-racial state. It doesn't take very much to awaken memories and very sharp memories. And even in the case of the president, with his sharp memory, perhaps he had run into trouble with cops at one time or another. But then you sit down, you talk it over, and apparently they reached some kind of accord where the sergeant cop and the professor are going to get together some more. And who knows? Something good may yet come out of it.

SIMON: Things in Iran seemed to be heating up again. President Ahmadinejad is supposed to start a second term next week. This week there were more clashes reported - difficult as reporting is to come by - between protestors and the police.

SCHORR: Yeah. And from all I can gather from people who know more about the inner workings of Iran than I do, this is getting to be a serious one that Ahmadinejad apparently is going to have trouble coping with. There have been problems (unintelligible) angry because he wanted to change his cabinet. It is said that Ayatollah Khamenei, the supreme leader or so on, is not behind him as much as he was. I think that Iran is not at the end of but the beginning of a siege(ph) of some trouble.

SIMON: Dan, thanks very much.

SCHORR: Sure thing.

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