On Thursday’s Joy Behar Show on CNN Headline News, as host Joy Behar discussed the ObamaCare debate during a segment that included Bloomberg News’s Margaret Carlson – formerly of Time magazine and CNN’s Capital Gang – the two took jabs at the "conscience" of Catholic bishops as Carlson argued that the group of nuns who recently endorsed ObamaCare are the "real conscience of the Catholic Church," and dismissed the opinions of bishops. Carlson: "[President Obama is] not going to get the Catholic bishops, they`re too busy denying Senators and Congressmen who are pro-choice, too busy denying them communion. They`re never coming over, so forget them."
As the two ignored the apparent left-leaning nature of the nuns group – the Catholic Health Association – Behar agreed with Carlson’s characterization of nuns as the "conscience" of the Church: "Exactly. You`re not kidding, especially these days."
Behar soon declared herself to feel "sappy" toward President Obama: "I`m sappy for Obama. I`m not sappy generally, but I just believe in the guy. I think he`s a gentleman, and I think he gives a damn."
Below is a complete transcript of the segment with guests Margaret Carlson and Ari Melber of the liberal The Nation magazine, with critical portions in bold, from the Thursday, March 18, Joy Behar Show on CNN Headline News:
(AFTER A CLIP OF FNC’s BRET BAIER INTERVIEWING PRESIDENT OBAMA)
JOY BEHAR: God, what was with all the interrupting?
MARGARET CARLSON, BLOOMBERG NEWS : You know, to be a good journalist, you have to be a little bit rude, as you can sometimes tell with me, Joy. But this guy went too far, and you have a calibrated system where you can be rude with a Congressman, a little less rude with a Senator, and with a President you pretty much have to accord him a lot of respect or the journalist ends up looking so bad nothing gets through to the audience.
BEHAR: Were they as rude to George Bush at Fox? I don`t think so.
ARI MELBER, THE NATION: No, you know, I thought he looked bad, so that`s bad for him and maybe bad for Fox, but I don`t really have a problem with him interrupting. My problem is he was interrupting over and over on very contentious issues. He kept going back to process, and he was hiding behind the e-mail that he’s getting rather than coming through with factual arguments. But had he been fact checking, if he was coming through and interrupting to say something, I would have been okay with that. I think the problem was the content, and frankly the President rarely gets a tough interview like this. So it can be, it can be good.
CARLSON: But surely Dick Cheney has never gotten that kind of treatment at Fox News.
BEHAR: Or at ABC or NBC or CBS or CNN. I just throw that in there. Bret apologized for interrupting. He said he wanted to get the most bang for his buck out of the President. But why did he ask him about Tiger Woods, then? He wasted his time with the Tiger Woods question. You really want to get the bang for your buck, don`t go there, right?
CARLSON: Yeah, no, that`s, certainly that`s not news and that belongs, someplace else on Fox, not in that interview. Sometimes you can ask the off-point question and get a glimmer of honesty, because the President wasn`t expecting that question. But the way this interview was set up, it seemed totally off the mark.
BEHAR: Why did he go over to Fox anyway? Why bother really? He`s not going to get anything out of them.
MELBER: I think he was leading by example. I mean, I don`t think he`s converting any votes at this late date among the Fox audience which surveys from the last election showed up runs over 90 percent Republican voters. But he`s saying to these last wayward Democrats this is what it looks like to fight back. This is what it looks like to defend this bill, which we`re going to have to do if we pass it. And so that gave him that route just like some of the other Republican debates we mentioned.
CARLSON: That`s kind of a bank shot, though.
BEHAR: A bank shot?
CARLSON: Well, like in basketball where you don`t actually go for the basket, you hit it off the rim. Am I right there? We`re in March Madness, Joy.
BEHAR: You`re so butch, Margaret.
CARLSON: I`m trying to be culturally relevant here beyond my own little playpen, that Democrats are going to see how mean Fox is so that`s why Obama would go on there. I, you know, that strikes me as not a straight away-
BEHAR: Yeah, it’s a circuitous route.
MELBER: But Margaret can count votes. You don`t think it was for Republican votes, he`s not getting Republican votes.
CARLSON: No, I think part of it is he`s been criticized for so long for not going on Fox, so he finally goes on Fox.BEHAR: Yeah, he seems to be making some head way, though. Kucinich has now gone on to his side, and the nuns and the bishops are fighting over the bill.
BEHAR: I mean, that`s fascinating stuff.
CARLSON: Well, he got the Catholic Health, he got the Catholic Health Association yesterday, and he did get that group of 59,000 nuns who actually we all know run the hospitals-
CARLSON: -just like the nurses run the hospitals. He`s not going to get the Catholic bishops, they`re too busy denying Senators and Congressmen who are pro-choice, too busy denying them communion. They`re never coming over, so forget them.
BEHAR: But they’re making some kind of confusion about abortion being federally funded in the bill, right? I mean, it`s not going to be federally funded. Why are they saying it is if it`s not? Why do they confuse American people so much?
CARLSON: Well, this is, I wrote a column today about how this is, Congressman Brad (Bart) Stupak`s imaginary friend. He has an imaginary issue, the issue isn`t there. Senator Bob Casey who`s famously pro-life in the Senate, his father was kept out of the 1992 Democratic Convention because he was pro-life, he voted for the Senate bill. He assures all pro-life Democrats there is no way that abortion is going to be funded, nothing changes with these insurance exchanges.
BEHAR: Right. The nuns would not be backing it if abortion was going to be funded.
CARLSON: They`re the real conscience of the Catholic Church.
BEHAR: Exactly. You`re not kidding, especially these days. Okay, we have to take a quick break. But two stay right there. We have more to talk about. Be right back.
BEHAR: During Bret Baier`s interruptathon with President Obama last night on Fox News, there were actually a few moments when the President was able to get his points across. Listen.
BAIER: Do you think this is going to pass?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA CLIP #1: I do. I`m confident it will pass.
OBAMA CLIP #2: The reason that it needs to be done is not its affect on the presidency. It has to do with how it`s going to affect ordinary people who right now are desperately in need of help.
BEHAR: You know, I really think he gives a damn about American people, this guy, you know? I really do believe it. Am I being naive?
CARLSON: No, I don`t think so. But you and I are a little sappy.
BEHAR: I`m sappy for Obama. I`m not sappy generally, but I just believe in the guy. I think he`s a gentleman and I think he gives a damn. Okay? But his approval rating goes back and forth. He`s still over 50 percent, though, even though Congress is at 12 percent or something.
CARLSON: Yeah, compared to other institutions, he`s very high.
BEHAR: Yeah. Do you think that his approval rating will go up if it passes, the health care passes?
MELBER: I do. I think people want leadership. You know, it was this big deal in some circles in Washington that he reportedly said something about how this is tied to his presidency. Well, of course it is. As you say, he may be doing it because he thinks it`s the right thing.
MELBER: I think that`s a fair guess, and he campaigned on it.
MELBERT: But absolutely when you take leadership and you get something passed, then you`re seen as on the move. And the real question for the Democrats is do they think that political capital is a renewable resource here? Because if you think that, you do things and then you move on to the next agenda and you get stuff passed. And too often the Democrats are rightly criticized for being timid and backing off. So the idea that somehow they should let this fail and that would help them politically, I think, is bonkers.
BEHAR: Very stupid idea. What if it doesn`t pass? I mean, there`s an outside chance. It looks like it`s going to now.
CARLSON: Yeah, people keep forgetting because it gets lost in the debate. What happens if you do nothing? How bad is it going to be? You can`t say for sure how bad it`s going to be, and you don`t get anything out of "I told you so." So when it gets as bad, when WellPoint raising premiums 39 percent becomes routine and the system is more broken and costs more and deficits go higher, a President gets nothing out of saying I told you this was going to happen.
CARLSON: He’s got to fix it, and so that`s why he has to put it all on the line, I say.
BEHAR: Now I was reading that a lot of the GOP is going to, they have said that if it passes, they will repeal it if they get back in power in the fall. I mean, are they just going to turn it over? Can they do that?
MELBER: They could roll back a lot of it, and they could make budgeting changes. But the real question about large social legislation like this is whether it becomes a part of life and it becomes popular. You don`t see anymore discussions about Medicare or Social Security being rolled back or civil rights bills. I mean, there`s a lot of legislation that was very divisive when it was first passed. People say, oh, this is so divisive, isn`t this terrible? Well, no, a lot of important things start out that way and then they become consecrated into part of the culture, part of the life that people don`t want to pull back.
CARLSON: I mean, they say how big it is to institute. Imagine pulling it apart. You know, you take a piece here and a piece there, and the whole thing falls apart.
BEHAR: So it`s kind of like labor pains right now, and once the baby is born, the baby is born. And everybody oohs over the baby.
CARLSON: Right, and you don`t remember the pain of childbirth, do you? I don`t.
BEHAR: I remember every minute, every second of it. And it was a long time ago. Okay, Ari, Margaret, thank you very much for dropping by.