Sunday, August 23, 2009

CNN's State of the Union Transcript (8-23-09): Health Care Reform, Afghan War

Read the complete transcript of State of the Union for 8-23-09. Excerpt below:

KING: This is the “State of the Union” report for Sunday, August 23rd.

In Afghanistan today, both President Hamid Karzai and his top challenger are claiming victory in last week’s election, raising tensions, even though it could be weeks or more before the official results are certified. It is an uncertain military situation, as well, with fighting between U.S. forces and the Taliban intensifying. And fresh indications President Obama could soon be asked to commit more American troops.

Here to talk about this and other global challenges are the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen , and the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry. He joins us from Kabul.

And Mr. Ambassador, let me start with you. There are complaints, escalating complaints this Sunday about fraud in the elections. On the threshold question of will this balloting be credible, what is your answer?

EIKENBERRY: Well, John, it was an extraordinary two months that we’ve been through, with this being a very historic election. Afghanistan, the first time in the past 30 years that the Afghan people have led an election for their president, for provincial councils, very intense campaign that occurred over the last two months, all new in Afghanistan. Presidential televised debates, campaign rallies. A very civil debate that occurred over this time.

The election itself, everyone knows how challenging it is in the country like Afghanistan to run an election. There’s an insurgency in parts of the country right now. It was an election in which over 6,000 voting stations were set up, crossing deserts and mountains, donkeys carrying ballots to the last polling stations of Afghanistan, and a very well-organized campaign. The Afghan-led independent electoral commission looks like it managed a pretty good process. There’s adjudication systems that have been up, an electoral complaints commission. There was a media complaints commission that was set up.

I got out myself and looked at some of the voting that was going on, and I can tell you, at least one part of the process, the indelible ink, over three days now I haven’t been able to get it off the finger.

Now, against all of that, where are we? Well, right now we’re waiting for the results of this election to come in. The electoral -- the independent electoral commission, they’re waiting for the tallies to be count from across the country. There’s been charges of fraud. The electoral complaints commission is taking those on right now.

We’re really not going to know, John, for several more weeks exactly where we do stand in this process.

We’re not sure exactly what the level of voter turnout was. Millions turned out to vote, but of course, Taliban intimidation, especially in southern Afghanistan, certainly limited those numbers. But for now, we don’t know, and it’s for us to wait and see and allow this process to move forward.

McCain Defends Palin on Obamacare: Transcript (8-23-09)

Senator John McCain, appearing on ABC's This Week, defended Sarah Palin's attacks on Obama's health care proposal. Read the complete transcript:

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president also says that the debate has been infected by falsehoods. And probably the most notorious one is the one made by your former running mate, Sarah Palin, who said that his bill would encourage death panels that would encourage euthanasia. He called that an extraordinary lie and he is right about that, isn't he?

MCCAIN: Well, I think that what we are talking about here is do – are we going to have groups that actually advise people as these decisions are made later in life and …

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's not in the bill.

MCCAIN: But – it's been taken out, but the way that it was written made it a little bit ambiguous. And another thing …

STEPHANOPOULOS: I don't think that's correct, Senator. The bill, all it said was that, if a patient wanted to have a Medicare consultation about end-of-life issues, they could have it at their request and the doctor would get reimbursed for it, no panel …

MCCAIN: There was a provision in the bill that talks about a board that would decide the most effective measures to provide health care for people, OK? Now, we had amendments, we republican have said that in no way would that affect the decisions that the patients would make and their families. That was rejected by the Democrats and the health committee.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But that's not a death panel.

MCCAIN: So what does – what does that lead to? Doesn't that lead to a possibility, at least opens the door to a possibility of rationing and decisions made such are made in other countries?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, every single independent group that looked at it said it just wasn't true.

MCCAIN: Well, then why did the Democrats turn down our amendments that clarified that none of the decisions that would be made by this board would in any way affect depriving of needed treatments for patients? I don't know why they did that then.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you think Sarah Palin was right?

MCCAIN: Look, I don't think they were called death panels, don't get me wrong. I don't think – but on the best treatment procedures part of the bill, it does open it up to decisions being made as far – that should be left – those choices left to the patient and the individual. That's what I think is pretty clear, which was a different section of the bill.