Week In Review With Daniel Schorr

President Obama delivered his first State of the Union address this week, and he used that forum to renew his call for bipartisanship, a call he later echoed in a speech to Republican House members in Baltimore. Guest host Audie Cornish reviews the week in news with NPR Senior News Analyst Dan Schorr.

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AUDIE CORNISH, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. Im Audie Cornish in for Scott Simon.

For a review of the week in the news, Im joined by NPR senior news analyst Dan Schorr. Hi, Dan.

DANIEL SCHORR: Hi, Audie.

CORNISH: Now, President Obama delivered his first State of the Union address this week.

SCHORR: Mm-hmm.

CORNISH: What did you think?

SCHORR: Well, I find it interesting in several respects. First of all, he has raised the priority on jobs to a much higher level than it was before, making clear that that is the most important thing he has to do, having learned that, I guess, from the voters out there. Secondly, I liked the way he positioned himself as being the representative of the people and the protector of the people. He seemed to be talking over the heads of the assembled legislators in that.

CORNISH: Now, since then hes gone on to give two more speeches. Now one was in Tampa to voters but the other was in Baltimore to House Republicans at their their retreat.

SCHORR: Yes, that was very interesting. For the House Republicans to invite the Democratic president to come and speak to them I thought was unusual, although Im told that they have been working on that for several weeks. I thought the position he took with them - I mean, if you talk about bipartisanship, this was the quintessential bipartisan. He appealed to Republicans to work with him. He never even said very much about the Democrats. It was he was there with Republicans, and he really wanted so much to work with them.

I dont know what effect it will have among the - previously he had been calling Republicans the party of no. And if there with the party of no, they certainly didnt seem that way to him as he stood there and practically appealed to them to join with him to get things done for the country.

CORNISH: Dan, you mentioned the presidents focus on jobs. Where does that lead health care?

.TEXT: SCHORR: Thats number two. And its hard to know whats going to happen now. There is a question, though, they dont have having lost the Senate seat in Massachusetts, they no longer have the necessary 60 to get a filibuster-proof vote. And the question is what they would do now.

There is some talk that they will try to use whats called a reconciliation process. On the other hand, what they lose there is that you cant put the whole bill in direct reconciliation. You can only reconcile those things directly connected with the budget. And so some of the other features of the bill like anti-abortion and things like that cant be put into that. That will require a separate handling. Its very complicated. I dont know if they finally will do it. But at the moment it seems to be their best chance of getting some kind of health bill.

CORNISH: I actually want to go back to talk about the State of the Union speech for a moment because there was an incident during that speech

SCHORR: Mm-hmm.

CORNISH: that got quite a bit of attention.

SCHORR: Oh, yes

CORNISH: And in his speech President Obama was chastising the Supreme Court for a recent ruling that would allow corporate funding of campaigns.

SCHORR: Right.

CORNISH: The president said it would allow foreign corporations to spend money on U.S. elections. And Justice Samuel Alito appeared to make a face and appeared to mouth the words not true. Youve seen a lot of these State of the Union addresses and covered a lot them. Have you ever seen a reaction like this?

SCHORR: Well, there is a certain decline in civility that we see in government which now has extended itself to the Supreme Court. Reminds me a little bit of Representative Joe Wilson, who last September audibly said you lie to the president when he was speaking about health care before a joint meeting of Congress.

CORNISH: I want to turn now to some international news. There was a major conference on Afghanistan in London this week. And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was among the attendees and Afghan President Hamid Karzai. He announced that hes working to include the Taliban in peace talks.

SCHORR: Yes.

CORNISH: And at the same time the U.S. supports the plan that would lure Taliban fighters away from the insurgency with jobs and cash.

SCHORR: Right.

CORNISH: Do you think these efforts will be successful?

SCHORR: Well, I dont know. The representatives of the Taliban when they are asked say we havent made up our minds about it, indicate that its being considered by them. Perhaps they also have factions, as they have in democratic countries, I dont know.

One thing is quite sure; the very fact that President Karzai and Secretary Clinton are trying so hard to draw the Taliban into some peace negotiation and discussion must be a big thing for them. They must say, gee, we must have them on the run, these Western if they are all making this kind of offer to us. As to whether it will work, who knows.

CORNISH: And, of course, Haiti. International aid groups and foreign governments are struggling to distribute aid and medical care.

SCHORR: Yes. Thats right. And they are doing a good job of it. And, although, they do have a problem that there are about a million Haitians who have no cover over their head and need tents or something, especially since we are approaching the hurricane and rainy season in Haiti. And we could have another great crisis on top of a crisis if they dont find someway of getting shelter for them soon.

CORNISH: But also, Dan, this week there were some amazing stories of survival out of Haiti.

SCHORR: Yes, there were, you know. I recall having read a long time ago that if you dont have water for seven days you cant make it. That has been disproved by these unbelievable cases of rescue of people, up to 14 and 15 days after saying there isnt any more. Then they go in, a French rescue team, Israeli rescue team goes and picks up one more and one more and one more, not in very good shape, but the idea, the resilience of human beings that has shown in these rescues is quite amazing.

CORNISH: NPR senior news analyst Dan Schorr. Thanks, Dan.

SCHORR: My pleasure.

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