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updated 12/1/2013 12:32:18 PM ET 2013-12-01T17:32:18

“MEET THE PRESS WITH DAVID GREGORY”

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December 1, 2013

DAVID GREGORY:

And good Sunday morning. A big weekend for the future of President Obama's landmark health care legislation. Two months to the day since the troubled launch of HealthCare.gov, the White House now says, in a report that it just put out this morning, that it has made dramatic progress, and that the team is operating with, quote, "Private sector velocity and effectiveness." That's how the website is apparently working.

A report just released this morning, as I say, also says the site's capacity has been expanded to handle 50,000 users at once, along with improved response times and decreased error rates. But the Obama administration has downplayed expectations during the past week, saying that demand could actually outweigh capacity. And today's report indicates that there's still more work to be done.

The real test lies ahead, when millions of uninsured Americans could try to enroll by an initial December 23rd signup deadline. Joining me now, two leading voices on Capitol Hill in the health care debate, Democratic Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, ranking member of the House Budget Committee, and Republican Mike Rogers of Michigan. In addition to chairing the Intelligence Committee, he also sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, with jurisdiction over the Department of Health and Human Services. Gentlemen, welcome to both of you, and welcome to Meet the Press.

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN:

Good to be here.

DAVID GREGORY:

Chairman Rogers, let me start with you. Maybe a little bit of a delay. Just your reaction to this report, "Dramatic progress, private sector-like velocity." The promise was for the website to be fully functioning by now. Are you satisfied?

REP. MIKE ROGERS:

Oh no, completely not. I mean well overstated. I mean have they made some progress? Yes. They brought in some private sector folks-- to try to get the functionality up. It still doesn't function right. Matter of fact, their own CIO said that he believed that if they had the ability to get up to 80% functionality, that would be a good day for them.

So A) the functionality is right. But here's the most important part of this discussion, that nobody talks about, the security of this site and the private information does not meet even the minimal standards of the private sector. And that concerns me. I don't care if you're for it or against it, Republican or Democrat, we should not tolerate the sheer level of incompetence securing this site. And remember how much personal information is not only there, but all of the sites that the hub accesses would expose Americans' personal information in a way that is breathtakingly bad.

DAVID GREGORY:

Okay. Congressman Van Hollen, the claims being what they are today still indicate a truth. A Washington Post editorial points it out this morning, that, while progress has been made, the site is still not, today, where it was supposed to be two months ago. And yet, the promise is to be fully functioning. Are you satisfied?

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN:

Well David, the administration has hit the big benchmarks they set out, right? 50,000 people at one time, 800,000 people a day. Look, this is going to take some time before it's up and kicking in full gear. I think what we have to look at is those states where you have well functioning web-sites, like California, like New York, like Kentucky. All of them are signing people up. All of them have a good mix of people.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

But you have a patchwork -- your own state site is not functioning very well.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

Oregon was off to a great start--

(OVERTALK)

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN:

David, Maryland's a mess, there's no doubt about it. The question is, are we going to work together to fix these problems? And there will be additional problems. Or are we going to do what our Republican colleagues want to do, continue just to try and sabotage the entire effort, even though they don't have an alternative? Yes, we have to fix it. We should be working together to fix it every day so it gets better.

DAVID GREGORY:

So let me pick up on that.

(OVERTALK)

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN:

But the underlying concept is good. That's why I think you have to-- California--

DAVID GREGORY:

My reporting, Congressman Rogers, indicates that this is also where the President's going to go. He's going to go on the offensive. He's going to argue that Republicans are trying to sabotage this instead of getting it right, that they've got no real ideas of their own. Is that what's going to actually make some improvements here to get this helping people?

REP. MIKE ROGERS:

No. You have to remember what happened. This is unprecedented confiscation of people's health care. And so here's what I think they're missing. They're trying to make this a political fight. When you have somebody who just lost their insurance, and by the way, there are millions of people who got cancellation notices. And the next go-round on the business side is 80 to 100 million people will get cancellation notices.

And let me tell you why I think they're missing the boat on this, trying to make this a political fight between Democrats and Republicans. A guy grabbed me the other day, whose wife is expecting a baby at the end of December. They've got a cancellation notice. If she has the baby in January, he is absolutely apoplectic about how he pays for it. If she has the baby in December, that-- there's no compassion in that.

And this is happening hundreds of thousands of times all across the country. They're getting ready to close high-risk pools that have cancer survivors, people who are trying to fight cancer are getting thrown out of their high-risk pool at the end of this year. And as a cancer survivor--

(OVERTALK)

REP. MIKE ROGERS:

--you want your whole focus being on beating the disease.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, but there's enough--

REP. MIKE ROGERS:

They're making a horrible mistake by trying to--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

You're talking about--

(OVERTALK)

REP. MIKE ROGERS:

--trying to make this political--

DAVID GREGORY:

You talk about confiscation--

REP. MIKE ROGERS:

Real people are getting hurt by this.

DAVID GREGORY:

The reality is there's also a lot of people who are going to have the potential to get insurance who never had insurance. And you have a small piece of the market where people may lose plans. Many of those will get better plans in the individual market.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

The insurance companies recognize those are there. Let me get to a bottom line question, though. You made your argument.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

Here's a bottom line question, which goes to will this be fixed? Look at this poll from CNN/ORC back in the November 18th to the 20th. Will current problems faced in the new health care law by solved? 54% do believe that it will be solved. That's a level of credibility and belief in the system that presumably is very important. But let me ask you, Congressman Van Hollen.

We have seen delays kind of in the still of the night. Here are some of the headlines. The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, now saying that small businesses will have extra time before they can actually start signing up for health care benefits. Should the individual mandate be delayed? This is the big part of health care. Should that be delayed, if you want all of this to work as well as it can?

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN:

David, as you know, they've already moved the deadline twice. They moved it to the end of March for the individual mandate. We've extended the period until December 23rd for people to sign up. Let's see how this is working. The answer to your question is we need to adapt. We need to make sure we address problems as they come up and try and work with them on a bipartisan basis.

You know, Mike says it's not political. I have in my pocket right here, Eric Cantor, the Republican whip, issued this called "playbook" against Obamacare the other day. They are not trying to work with us to try and address these issues. Yes, there are problems. There's no denying that. Let's work to fix them. We know what it looks like when they're fixed. It looks like California, it looks like New York, it looks like Kentucky.

DAVID GREGORY:

But you're not saying it's a Republican's job to execute, right? Because these were the federal government's idea, this President's idea, and it's his responsible to execute. The federal government's responsibility to execute.

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN:

No doubt about that. You've got a lot of groups out there running ads, telling young people not to sign up. You have efforts to interfere with the navigators, people who are trying to get more Americans to sign up. When we had the prescription drug bill, there were lots of problems. We didn't think it was the greatest bill the way it was originally designed. But Democrats worked with Republicans--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

--encourage seniors. I've done the research.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

He did not encourage people to sign up.

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN:

--worked with us to get the job done. And that's--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

Should the individual mandate be delayed, if that's what it takes to get the program right?

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN:

Well, as of today, no. But, you know, you obviously, if you can't sign up. But right now, we're making progress. Looks like people will be--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

Congressman Rogers, same question to you. It's really important whether the individual mandates should be delayed, along with some other things.

REP. MIKE ROGERS:

Yeah. Well, first of all, you're punishing these people. You know, the number one reason people didn't have insurance was cost. What this has done is increased cost. So again, they have been making it political. Matter of fact, they tried to get people to talk about politics at the Thanksgiving table by talking about the President's health care law. And at their own family table. If that isn't political, I don't know what is.

Here's the problem. You have 15% of the population didn't have health insurance when this started, roughly. And we think that number was high. We think it was closer to ten. So what they've done is disrupted it for the 85% that had health care. And their costs are going up significantly. So we've broken the system to help a few.

Nobody would fix a problem that way. And think of the people who are going through all of the anguish today for getting that pink slip on their medical insurance, who have cancer, who have a wife that's pregnant. Those folks are absolutely apoplectic. And so I think--

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN:

David, look.

REP. MIKE ROGERS:

--this is crazy that we're saying, "Well, if we just tweak it a little bit, we're going to take care of their problem."

DAVID GREGORY:

All right.

REP. MIKE ROGERS:

These are real-life problems. And these folks are already having a hard time in this economy. And their health care insurance--

DAVID GREGORY:

I'm going to--

REP. MIKE ROGERS:

--is going up, and they've got to figure out how to get it.

DAVID GREGORY:

I'm going to leave the debate there. There are a lot more to--

(OVERTALK)

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN:

--so much misinformation in two seconds that--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, quick respond.

(OVERTALK)

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN:

The reality is it hasn't messed up 80% of the market. The individual market, which has always been broken, represents about 5% of the market. A lot of the people were losing their health care on an annual basis before. We're trying to fix that.

REP. MIKE ROGERS:

That's not true.

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN:

There are some imperfections in the--

(OVERTALK)

REP. MIKE ROGERS:

That just simply isn't true.

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN:

All the information about compromising your personal data--

REP. MIKE ROGERS:

80 million people--

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN:

--one of the great things about the Affordable Care is you--

REP. MIKE ROGERS:

--are going to get pink slips.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right--

(OVERTALK)

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN:

--were not dealing with--

REP. MIKE ROGERS:

--their own estimate--

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN:

--preexisting conditions.

REP. MIKE ROGERS:

--80 million people--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, we're not going to settle this here and now. We're out of time. But obviously, this gives you some indication to our viewers about where this debate is and how political it will remain as we move ahead, perhaps, into the new year. Congressmen, both of you, Chairman Rogers, Congressman Van Hollen, thank you both very much.

Let's get more of a reality check. I want to turn now to Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who is a former health policy advisor to President Obama, now professor at The University of Pennsylvania, and also here is editor of The Washington Post Wonkblog, Ezra Klein, who has been closely tracking the progress of the health care rollout. Welcome to both of you. So the reality test. Here's the report saying, "Dramatic progress, substantial progress, more work to do." Zeke, you wrote, in an op-ed some weeks ago that this was the time, "Thanksgiving weekend, this deadline was here." Is it good enough progress?

DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL:

I think it's good enough progress. Clearly, just like Google and Facebook and all the internet sites are constantly tweaking their sites, constantly improving them, this one still has a ways to go. But it is certainly working reasonably well. I, in particular, want the "shop and compare" to improve. The White House has said that it's going to improve either later tonight or tomorrow. That's a key area where people can just go and see what's available, what the prices are. It hasn't been working that way. But they're promising to have it improve.

So I think actually we are going in the right direction. And for the first time, and most importantly, we actually have effective management overseeing. We have an integrator that's independent and that seems to be very effective in Optum as opposed to have to CMS run it.

DAVID GREGORY:

The lag effect of all of this, are people still going to have confidence enough, especially young people, to go and actually sign up, Ezra?

EZRA KLEIN:

Well, at some point, they're going to need to. So there are three things getting folks to sign up, right? On the one hand, there are subsidies. Now the Congressman mentioned the reason people don't get health care insurance is cost. Well, for a lot of those folks, they're going to get hundreds of billions of trillions of dollars, not individually, but in the market as a whole, of subsidy. So they're going to find they're going to have a good deal. And that's the reason they're going to go in and be part of it.

Another piece of it, of course, is the individual mandate. You guys were talking about this a couple of moments ago. But at the end of this year, in 2014, you're going to be paying a percentage of your income, a percentage point of your income, if you don't sign up for health care insurance. So that gets you in the market, too.

And then the other thing that has not launched yet, and we don't know how effective it will be, but a couple months ago, before the Obama administration believed that the fall would be all about Obamacare not working. They believed it would be all about a massive outreach effort that they were going to launch using mayors, using governors, using nonprofit groups, and focusing on sort of the T.V. shows young people watch on social networks, trying to get the mothers involved, to get folks to sign up by getting trusted validators talking about it. That, the website is now working well enough that they are able to launch that campaign until they will.

(OVERTALK)

DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL:

I mean the other point of go is, well, we do have a data point, which is California, where the website is working well enough. And there, the proportion of kids who are signing up is the proportion of kids in the population. And so it does appear that we are going to have enough when you look at that data point. And if we can get the word out, I think Ezra is right, we'll get enough young people.

DAVID GREGORY:

When you hear the politicians, who were just talking, and you hear the debate, the political debate, and a lot of my viewers have got to be hearing that, saying, "I just don't get the bottom-- what about whether this is actually going to get solved?"

DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL:

Oh, the website, no doubt, is going to get solved. That's a technical problem, and they do--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

But then there are the other tests down the road.

DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL:

Of course there are other tests down the road. But on the long run--

DAVID GREGORY:

Yes.

DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL:

--over the next few years and then to the end of the decade, this is going to have a dramatic improvement. It's going to lower costs. You're going to have competition in the exchanges, that is already keeping insurance costs down, and going to keep them down further. You're having improvements in the health care system. Hospitals have to work on infections, readmissions. And you are getting a lot more rationalization.

DAVID GREGORY:

But, all right.

DR. EZEKIEL EMANUEL:

--price transparency.

DAVID GREGORY:

And there is a more pessimistic case, which could be what?

EZRA KLEIN:

The more pessimistic case could be that you would have employees behind to move people out of employer-based insurance and into the exchanges. And actually think, and a funny thing about this debate, is that Republicans believe that would be, over time, great. All their plans, including Paul Ryan's 2009 plan, were about breaking down the employer-- the tax breaks for employer-based insurance and moving people over. One thing that I think it's frustrating in this debate is that we have gotten to a place in politics where we refuse to accept the fact of any kind of disruption in the forum. There can only, only, only be what--

(OVERTALK)

EZRA KLEIN:

The individual market is a place where the reason prices are what they are is we discriminate against the sick and the old and women and people who can't read the fine print of insurance. We are fixing that. And it's going to be important that we fix it. It doesn't mean no one will have a tough time in the changeover. And we need to help those folks. But we also need to recognize, if we're going to make big things better, there's going to be a positive difficulty as we do that. Otherwise, we're just embracing the status quo for--

DAVID GREGORY:

And this, again, I'm out of time, but this is, I think, really where the administration wants to argue the plus side that you've already seen on the Affordable Care Act, and argue the real peril of the status quo. I've got to leave it there. But Zeke Emanuel, Ezra Klein, thank you both very much for being here. We're going to come back, talk a little bit about the Catholic Church, why the church has turned against the President's health care plan. Back in a minute with my exclusive interview with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York.

***Commercial Break***

DAVID GREGORY:

We’re back on a Sunday morning, now to Pope Francis and his drive for change in the Catholic Church.

THIS IS THE LATEST EXAMPLE, CALLED IN LATIN THE “EVANGELII GAUDIUM” OR THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL. IN HIS FIRST MAJOR POLICY DOCUMENT RELEASED THIS WEEK, THE POPE SLAMS ECONOMIC INEQUALITY AND CALLS ON THE RICH TO SHARE THEIR WEALTH.

SINCE BECOMING THE FIRST NON-EUROPEAN PONTIFF IN 13 HUNDRED YEARS THIS PAST MARCH, THE POPE HAS BROKEN WITH MANY TRADITIONS OF HIS PREDECESSORS. BUT WHAT IS THE POPE FRANCIS EFFECT ON AMERICAN POLITICS AND CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES SUCH AS OBAMACARE, GAY MARRIAGE AND ABORTION?

TO FIND OUT, EARLIER THIS WEEK -- BEFORE THE RELEASE OF THE POPE'S POLICY MANIFESTO -- I SPOKE WITH ONE-ON-ONE WITH OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL CHURCH FIGURES IN THE U.S.: CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN, ARCHBISHOP OF NEW YORK...

(BEGIN TAPE)

DAVID GREGORY:

Your Eminence, welcome to Meet the Press.

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

Thank you, David. Good to be with you.

DAVID GREGORY:

And happy holidays.

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

Blessed Thanksgiving. You bet.

DAVID GREGORY:

Thank you very much. Lots to talk about, I want to talk about faith. Talk about some politics. But let's start with the church.

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

You're on.

DAVID GREGORY:

And what a remarkable year it's been with Pope Francis and the Pope France effect. His humanity is something that's touched people the world over, not just Catholics, and has made him an Internet sensation among other things. How do you describe this Francis effect on the church and as I say on humanity more broadly?

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

Well, all I know David, is I thank God for it. That's for sure. And I see it every day. I can't walk down the streets of New York, which I do a lot, without people stopping me. And they'll say, "Cardinal, I'm not even a Catholic, I'm not even a believer. But I love Pope Francis, and thanks a lot for voting for him."

Because they love him. You put your finger on it I think when you spoke about the humanity. His simplicity, his sincerity, his genuineness, his humility. We as Catholics believe God came to us through the person, through the humanity of his son Jesus. And I think Jesus' coming to us as Catholics, and again to the world through the humanity, the simplicity, the sincerity, of Pope Francis.

DAVID GREGORY:

He's not making any doctrinal changes.

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

Nope. Uh-uh (NEGATIVE).

DAVID GREGORY:

Church doctrine remains the same. By have described it as a change of tone.

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

I would say a change of tone, a change of strategy. Right, a pope by his nature can't make doctrinal changes. In fact, his sacred responsibility is to protect the integrity of the faith and to pass it on. He can make a lot of changes in the way, the style, the manner in which it's presented. You know the best analogy of that? John XXIII, who by the way, the Italians are saying Pope Francis reminds them of John XXIII. He was the pope from '58 to '63. He said, "Look, we've got the gift of faith. That gift can't change. But it can sure be gift wrapped in a better way to make it more appealing, to make it more radiant.

DAVID GREGORY:

Does it get more confusing though if you do that?

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

It could. But I think one of the appeals of Francis is he said, "We can't be afraid to take some risks. We've got to dare. If we're just timid, if we're afraid, if we're sticking in the sacristy and afraid to go out and engage people and meet people and take some chances in presenting the faith, we're going to shrivel up and die."

DAVID GREGORY:

But he said, "We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods." He talked about there being too much obsession within the church about talking about those issues. You have said there's nobody to the right of you on some of these doctrinal issues. Is that a problem for you, that he believes that?

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

That he would say that?

DAVID GREGORY:

Yeah, that he says that?

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

No, not at all. I gave him a standing ovation when he said that. Because most of the time I say, "I don't know if it's so much the church is obsessed with that, it's the world that's obsessed with those things." They're always asking us about it. I look at myself, David, in my almost 37 years as a priest, rare would be the times that I preached about those issues.

So Francis is right. He's saying, "First things first. First let's talk about God, about his mercy, about his love, about his forgiveness, about his invitation, about his embrace, about his promise of life eternal through his son Jesus. You talk about that, and then morals, doctrine, that will fall into place."

DAVID GREGORY:

But some of the moral debates, this is where there are debates. This is where there is tension.

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

Sure.

DAVID GREGORY:

What is the natural evolution of a change in tone, a change in the packaging of this pope to actual change in church policy on some of these matters?

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

Yeah, I don't know if that's too new, though. You know, I would say since the time of Jesus Christ, there's always been tension, difficulty, conflict in the application of the teaching. I mean, I look at my Jewish neighbors, they have the Torah. Now there's the law pretty clear. The application is always going to bring some debate and conversation.

We Catholics, we Christians had the eight beatitudes. We got the Sermon on the Mount. The application, that's where the rubber hits the road. That's where there's always going to be some conversation and a little bit of disagreement.

DAVID GREGORY:

So what is his effect on American politics, for instance, on some of these issues, be it abortion or gay marriage? What is the impact?

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

On politicians or on Catholics here?

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, on the public debates, on the political debates in this country around these issues?

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

Well, I would tell you this, for us as I would say for committed Catholics, and thanks be to God, there's a lot of them, I love them, I'm grateful for them this Thanksgiving weekend, they would say what Pope Francis has done is reminded us of the latitude of Catholic beliefs and Catholic principles. Those who would try to closet us maybe and just what you might call below-the-belt issues, where that be gay marriage or abortion or contraception or divorce, whatever.

And those are important. No doubt about it. The church's teaching on that is unwavering. But that's not it. What Pope Francis has said, the way we forgive, the way we help the poor, the way we help the immigrant, the way we reach out to the sick and to the refugee and to the forgotten, those at the side of the road. That is as strong and as cogent a moral imperative as anything else.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right. So let's talk about a couple of those moral imperatives.

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

Sure.

DAVID GREGORY:

What about ObamaCare? You have voiced your displeasure with certain aspects of it in terms of mandates for hospitals and so forth. What about the overall goal of it? Do you think it will ultimately prevail? Would you like it? Do you think it's important for the country that universal health care insurance is available?

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

Yup. And I'm glad you allow me to make that distinction, David. We bishops have been really kind of in a tough place because we're for universal, comprehensive, life-affirming healthcare. We, the bishops of the United States, can you believe it, in 1919 came out for more affordable, more comprehensive, more universal healthcare. That's how far back we go in this battle, okay?

So we're not Johnny-come-latelies. We've been asking for reform in healthcare for a long time. So we were kind of an early supporter in this. Where we started bristling and saying, "Uh-oh, first of all this isn't comprehensive, because it's excluding the undocumented immigrant and it's excluding the unborn baby," so we began to bristle at that.

And then secondly we said, "And wait a minute, we Catholics who are kind of among the pros when it comes to providing healthcare, do it because of our religious conviction, and because of the dictates of our conscience. And now we're being asked to violate some of those."

So that's when we began to worry and draw back and say, "Mr. President, please, you're really kind of pushing aside some of your greatest supporters here. We want to be with you, we want to be strong. And if you keep doing this, we're not going to be able to be one of your cheerleaders." And that sadly is what happened.

DAVID GREGORY:

Are you disappointed on another debate, on immigration, that it appears that Republicans in this case don't see a pathway any longer toward getting this done?

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

I am. And immigration would be one of those issues that shows that those who tried to pigeonhole bishops, pastors, Catholics, are wrong. Because now we're upset. On healthcare, we might be upset with the Democrats, with the administration. On immigration, we're saying to the House of Representative, which is dominated by the Republicans, "You guys have got to get your act together." And this is the best chance we've had in fair and just immigration reform. It's in your lap and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. And we're not going to let you off the hook. So yeah, we're disappointed there as well.

DAVID GREGORY:

Let me touch on gay marriage. Here this week you had Illinois becoming the 16th state, including D.C., to legalize same-sex marriage. Regardless of the church teachings, do you think this is evolving in such a way that it's ultimately going to be legal everywhere? Or do you believe the opposite, that there will be a backlash and that it, well, the status quo will be maintained?

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

I think I'd be a Pollyanna to say that there doesn't seem to be kind of a stampede to do this. I regret that. I wish that were not the case for the states to be--

DAVID GREGORY:

But why do you think the church is losing the argument on it, in effect?

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

Well, I think maybe we've been out-marketed, sometimes. We've been caricatured as being anti-gay. And as much as we'd say, "Wait a minute, we're pro marriage, we're pro traditional marriage, we're not anti anybody," I don't know. When you have forces like Hollywood, when you have forces like politicians, when you have forces like some opinion-molders that are behind it, it's a tough battle.

I do think to get back to your question though, David, you know, back in 1973 with Roe v. Wade, everybody said, "This is a foregone conclusion. In a couple years, this issue is going to go away. It's going to be back-burnered." To this day, it remains probably the most divisive issue in American politics. And as you look at some of the changing attitudes, you say, "Wow, we're beginning to affect the young with the pro-life message. So we're not going to give up on it.

DAVID GREGORY:

So you don't think the gay marriage debate is over, a settled question?

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

I don't think it's over. No. I don't think it is. Uh-uh (NEGATIVE).

DAVID GREGORY:

I want to conclude with this, because I think of Thanksgiving as I think of the holidays generally as a wonderful opportunity to separate from our lives and to think about gratitude. However, I don't have to tell you how commercial these holidays become. And we think more about recipes for the holiday. So let me ask you, Your Imminence. What do you think is the right recipe, what's your recipe for expressing gratitude that you'd like to share with people?

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

Sure. By the way, I'm not against recipes.

DAVID GREGORY:

Yes, no, neither am I.

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

I kind of like them myself. The right recipe is this. I think it comes down to humility, which is the key both for the people of the book. Jews and Christians would always say, "Humility is the key virtue," in that when we recognize that without God we're nothing. With God, everything is possible.

When we realize that everything we've got, every breath we take is an unmerited gift from a lavishly-loving God, that prompts us literally to fall to our knees and to say thank you. It also reminds us that we're not the center of the universe. It's not about me. It's about Him and it's about His people. That's gratitude, that's faith, that's humility. That's thanksgiving.

DAVID GREGORY:

And there could be a round table, as we laugh about it often, but there can be family pain and dysfunction.

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

There can. Uh-huh (AFFIRM).

DAVID GREGORY:

But it's an opportunity again to separate and say, "Where's my perspective in my life"?

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

Isn't it a paradox, David, that every year, there's pain at Thanksgiving? You think, "Oh my God, my family's dysfunctional." But you wouldn't be anywhere else on Thanksgiving. You're already looking forward to going back there. And that's the beauty of family and community.

DAVID GREGORY:

Cardinal Dolan, thank you so much for your time.

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

Thank you, David. Good being with you.

DAVID GREGORY:

Appreciate it very much.

CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN:

Happy Thanksgiving weekend.

DAVID GREGORY:

You too. Thank you.

(END TAPE)

DAVID GREGORY:

And when we come back here, the politics of health care and a term we haven’t heard in a while: HILLARYCARE. REPUBLICANS BRING BACK AN OLD TERM AS PART OF A NEW STRATEGY. SO WILL IT WORK?

COMING UP: OUR MEET THE PRESS ROUNDTABLE WITH THEIR VIEWS AND ANALYSIS: DAVID BROOKS, ANDREA MITCHELL, CHUCK TODD AND MAYOR OF BALTIMORE STEPHANIE RAWLINGS BLAKE.

***Commercial Break***

ANNOUNCER:

Meet the Press is back with our political roundtable. Here this morning: Chuck Todd, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, David Brooks and Andrea Mitchell. Now, David Gregory.

DAVID GREGORY:

We are back. Welcome to Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the mayor of Baltimore, first time on Meet the Press. Mayor since 2010, served as secretary of the Democratic National Committee, as well. Great to have you here.

STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE:

Great to be here.

DAVID GREGORY:

So the big question for all of you is how much better are things, really? And Chuck, there are so many stories again today about how angry the president is.

CHUCK TODD:

Yes.

DAVID GREGORY:

They want to separate the president from all the problems. But where is the accountability? Does somebody still have to be fired for this before Americans think they're really going to get on the right track?

CHUCK TODD:

Well, I don't know if it's going to have to. But I think if this doesn't turn out to be the fix, if this website fix doesn't turn out to work as well as if they are promising, they're promising right now on various conference calls, and what they're promising as far as the public is concerned, then I think you would see public accountability and some sort of demand for action.

Look, behind the scenes, I think all of these reports and all of this in a weekend sort of placement of where the website is at this point, all of this seems irrelevant to me, because we haven't had a real test of the system. They say it can handle up to 50,000 at one time. Okay, let's see what happens. The test is, right, if they're going to--

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

Well, guess what? They're hesitant in the market this week. And they're not going to-- this is a soft launch. This is a beta test.

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

This is managing expectations here.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And it's also the fact of what happens when people actually start enrolling and insurers start interacting and bills have to be paid. You know, when people put claims in, all of those larger tests are so far down the road. Seems to me to put out a fact sheet today and say that they've got 400 bugs fixed, what kind of bugs? Big bugs? Little bugs? (LAUGHTER)

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

It seems as though --

CHUCK TODD:

They have a nice chart, and they have a lot of--

(OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

They have charts and graphs.

CHUCK TODD:

--moment in their cleanup.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But the bigger question is, also going back to how this happened, what is the management inside the White House? How much is the president reaching out to outside advisors? Is he only consulting with friends who are his, you know, top advisors inside the White House? Or is he really getting the best opinion beyond Jeff Zients, who is the management consultant trying to fix this?

DAVID GREGORY:

Here's something to throw out there from this morning's paper in The Washington Post, to political correspondent Dan Balz writes about the lost year. "By almost any measure--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

Right.

DAVID GREGORY:

--this has been a lost year for Obama on the domestic front. The flawed rollout of the health care law, the most important initiative of his tenure, has been a huge setback, hardly what Obama could have envisioned as he looked toward his second term in the weeks after his reelection." Mayor?

STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE:

I think that's a bit of an overstatement, "The lost year?" Focusing on trying to get more people affordable quality health care? In Baltimore, over 80,000 people are without health care. In the state of Maryland, over 80,000. At the end of the day, everyone knows, we can all agree, the rollout could have been, should have been, better.

But underneath all of that is Democrats and the president trying to make sure the people have health care. You know, that is the side that we should be on, not, you, this sort of, "Is it right? Is it wrong? Should he be mad about it? Should he not be mad about it?" This is about making sure people can live.

DAVID BROOKS:

I have to say, people are appraising whether this government can work. Can government be nimble? Can it learn from its mistakes? And I would say the website is just a small symptom that is not nimble. Government is like an offensive lineman. It can do something really well. It can do blocking. It can create order. But when you ask government to be a wide receiver, then you're asking two things it can't do. And I think we're in a situation like that. We're asking it to do things it can't do. Republicans win elections when Democrats overreach by asking government to do things it can't do.

CHUCK TODD:

David, the most interesting thing in this report, right, page one-- it's page three of the report, it says here that, "The team is operating with private sector velocity and effectiveness."

DAVID GREGORY:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay, that is an acknowledgement that, "You know what? If this was a government operation for a long time and it failed, now we're bringing in the private sector folks." I mean that is an indictment on the whole idea of government as a solution, frankly, when you look at--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

And the president, as a manager, and people around him, who can get the bureaucracy to move in a particular direction, which is not easy. But this is your point about our nimble government.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And the challenge is, I think the goals are laudable, Mayor. And in fact, it's something that the president articulated brilliantly as an election and a reelection mantra. But this was a very tough bet. And he had an obligation, I think, to make sure that the rollout was not this disastrous, in order to achieve those goals. Because now they are at risk of losing the credibility of government as an agent of change for a generation--

STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE:

Republicans are insistent, relentless pursuit of failure, standing on the sidelines, cheering for failure. You know, at the Conference of Mayors, I was just saying earlier, we have Democrats, we had Republicans, nobody's rooting against each other. We're trying to make sure that we all, we know that when cities--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And--

STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE:

--succeed, the country succeeds. And in Congress, we have people that are standing on the sidelines, rooting for failure. We know that the rollout was botched. But Democrats are focused on trying to build and trying to fix it.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

I'm just saying that--

(OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--the president gave his opponents--

STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE:

Yes.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--and can certainly make the argument that he has had this monolithic Republican opposition in Congress. I mean that's a good and valid excuse. But he gave them a weapon against them.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right. But David, your--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And that's--

DAVID GREGORY:

--your point, too, I mean conservatives are saying, "Look, you had a big idea. You have to execute."

DAVID BROOKS:

Yeah. Well--

DAVID GREGORY:

"You can't have one without the other."

DAVID BROOKS:

People said that about President Bush with Iraq, too.

DAVID GREGORY:

Yeah.

DAVID BROOKS:

So he's got a couple of--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, and he was--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID BROOKS:

And I won't say as a predecessor to President Obama, "What'd you learn being president that you didn't know before?" He said there's a lot of passive aggressive behavior in government. (LAUGHTER) And I think that-- "I give an order, and just nothing happens." (LAUGHTER) And that's just the nature of things. It's very hard to fire people. It's very hard to give them economic incentives.

Government can do some things, as I say, really well. Social Security, move checks here, there, really well. Do the sort of nimbleness that this requires, lot tougher. And adjusting to failure, a lot tougher. And so it's a question of what you ask government to do. It doesn't mean you're hating government all the time, but understanding limits and roles. And I do think, with the complexity of this thing, they probably overstepped.

DAVID GREGORY:

So isn't it really interesting, I've been doing a lot of reading about early America and this fierce independent, the idea of natural law. And in the enlightenment period of the individual liberty as a real source of the American government experience. And yet, in more modern times, the idea that government should, as you were saying, Mayor, play a role to do good, that it should use its power to actually fix big, societal problems. But we do have this in conflict because the goal to do good, and to a lot of people, feels like telling them what to do.

DAVID BROOKS:

Well, that's right. There is-- it's always been this retrenchment of collectivism. Right? On one hand, and especially, you know, you're bringing up the early period, you know, this country was divided. Sort of the northern part, you had the initial settlers were okay with collectivism. But the folks that immigrated and migrated to the south weren't so much that way.

But let's go back to the lost year. I mean health care is just the icing on the cake. Where's immigration, his initial push for guns, this feeling of, frankly, rebuilding trust in government, breaking the fever that he thought-- ? There were all these things that he thought the second term, that his election to a second term, the validation of a second term--

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

DAVID BROOKS:

--was going to do. And it's not just a lost year, it's a setback.

DAVID GREGORY:

Here's another aspect of it. We look ahead to 2016, Hillary Clinton and health care. We've done some checking on this. And you hear Republicans talking a lot about Hillary Clinton in this context. Listen.

(BEGIN TAPE)

SEN. TED CRUZ:

if you like your plan you can keep it. That was not accidental. That was following the lessons from the fight over Hillarycare. What took Hillarycare down is people realized holy cow, I might lose my health insurance. I might lose my doctor."

GOV. JOHN KASICH:

"I mean who would have ever thought this was going to work? But I just have to tell you, this is really Hillarycare.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (AUDIO):

We can't forget that she was the original author of Hillarycare back in, I believe, 1993. And that would have been a disaster as well.

(END TAPE)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

I mean you'd think they'd be a little more artful.

GROUP VOICES:

Yeah, right. (LAUGHTER)

(OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--likely or meeting--

(OVERTALK)

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--obvious. And I don't think it's showing them being terribly agile and putting forth what they would do. Because right now, they have offered--

STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE:

You've got--

ANDREA MITCHELL:

--nothing.

DAVID GREGORY:

Right.

STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE:

They have a playbook. They're sticking to the playbook. They've tried almost 50 times to repeal it. And for what? Ask one of them to give us their solution. We know the system was broken. Where's the fix?

DAVID BROOKS:

Yeah, the election's sort of like which party will commit suicide last? (LAUGHTER) So that's the-- Republicans really messed up with the government shutdown. We have the Obama website. It will be Republicans' turn next. We'll see.

DAVID GREGORY:

And that's what the Democrats say is what they worry about in terms of the website is that if we're talking about this in the same way come January, then all of a sudden these candidates out there, a lot of Democrats have taken tough votes, they're going to be hard pressed to go out there and--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID BROOKS:

By the way, David, that's really-- this is a bunch of Republicans hoping that the more they say, "Hillary Care," that--

(OVERTALK)

DAVID BROOKS:

--she'll step in, no, and like this, "No, no, no."

(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:

--divide the party.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right, coming up, the roundtable is going to be coming back. And as we give thanks this holiday weekend, Harry Smith will have the poignant story of a victim of the Boston Marathon bombing, a Haitian immigrant and medical school graduate learning to live life all over again. That story's coming up.

***Commercial Break***

DAVID GREGORY:

AND WE ARE BACK. THE WORDS 'BOSTON STRONG' ARE NOW SYNONYMOUS WITH THE APRIL TERROR BOMBING THAT SHOOK THE CITY, BUT FOR SOME THESE WORDS NOW MEAN A LIFELONG MISSION TO OVERCOME WOUNDS THAT MAY NEVER COMPLETELY HEAL.

ON THIS THANKSGIVING WEEKEND, OUR HARRY SMITH HAS AN AMAZING STORY OF AN IMMIGRANT VICTIM WHO REPRESENTS THE TRUE SPIRIT OF BOSTON STRONG.

(BEGIN TAPE)

HARRY SMITH

MERY DANIEL IS DETERMINED. NO MATTER WHAT. SHE IS GOING TO CLIMB THE HILL NEAR VIENNA'S SCHONBRUNN PALACE NO MATTER WHAT. IT WILL TAKE THIS AMERICAN TOURIST THE BETTER PART OF AN HOUR

MERY DANIEL:

There was a big hill. And I had to climb the hill. And that was the only way I was gonna have the full view of Vienna, And I was told they had hot chocolate (LAUGHS).

MERY DANIEL (NATURAL SOUND):

This is so beautiful.

HARRY SMITH:

You wanted to climb to the top. Why did you want to walk all the way up that hill?

MERY DANIEL:

Symbolically, for me, climbing the hill means a lot to me. It's like almost-- similar to what I'm going through right now and facing the hill meant to me facing my own challenges.

LAST SPRING, MERY WAS NEAR THE FINISH LINE OF THE BOSTON MARATHON: A FAVORITE DAY IN A CITY SHE LOVES.

MERY DANIEL:

That energy of happiness and togetherness, so I wanted to be there. I wanted to be part of that.

HARRY SMITH:

SHE WOULD AWAKEN DAYS LATER IN THE HOSPITAL TO LEARN SHE HAD LOST HER LEFT LEG. DOCTORS WERE DOING ALL THEY COULD TO SAVE THE RIGHT ONE. YET SHE HAD NO ANGER. NO SELF PITY.

MERY DANIEL:

I'm very thankful and grateful. But I'm also grateful for life, to be able to even see this Thanksgiving. I came close to die. And -- that's something to celebrate.

HARRY SMITH:

WE WANTED TO TELL MERY'S STORY THIS THANKSGIVING BECAUSE MERY HERSELF IS A KIND OF MODERN-DAY PILGRIM. SHE CAME TO AMERICA FROM HAITI; A TEENAGER WHO COULDN'T SPEAK A WORD OF ENGLISH.

MERY DANIEL:

In the U.S., you are offered a lot of opportunities. And if you work at it, if you apply yourself, you can actually achieve whatever you want to achieve.

HARRY SMITH:

SHE STUDIED BIOCHEMISTRY AT U-MASS, GOT HER MEDICAL DEGREE IN EUROPE AND BECAME A NATURALIZED CITIZEN.

MERY DANIEL:

I can dare to dream, dare to believe, dare to disagree and -- dare to be whatever I want to be.

HARRY SMITH:

You still believe that?

MERY DANIEL:

Yes. (CHUCKLE)

HARRY SMOTH

MERY IS THE PERSON WE WISH WE WERE MORE LIKE: UNDETERRED, EVEN BY THE BIGGEST OF OBSTACLES.

MERY DANIEL:

There are challenges that you have to face and you have to overcome. It might be losing a limb for me. It might be something else for -- for someone else

HARRY SMITH:

And you feel like what happened to you is no different from any other challenge any of the rest of us face on any given day?

MERY DANIEL:

Yeah, that's what I feel.

HARRY SMITH:

POSITIVE. BUT NOT POLLYANN-ISH. MAYBE YOU COULD CALL IT OLD-FASHIONED AMERICAN OPTIMISM.

MERY DANIEL:

You do have moments of doubt or like, "Can I do this?" My first step was very -- phenomenal. I was so happy when I took my first step.

HARRY SMITH:

And then the second?

MERY DANIEL:

And then -- I don't know how many. (LAUGH)

MERY DANIEL (NATURAL SOUND):

It’s easier uphill.

HARRY SMITH:

AN OPTIMISM FORGED FROM A LIFE WHERE NOTHING WAS TAKEN FOR GRANTED: AN IMMIGRANT'S LIFE.

HARRY SMITH:

Does some of it have to do with where you came from?

MERY DANIEL:

Yes I think so. And I think it could be part of my culture that prepared me for this.

HARRY SMITH:

'Cause you see a lot of people who could be really despairing?

MERY DANIEL:

Yes.

MERY DANIEL:

But they're smiling.

HARRY SMITH:

MERY, IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING, DID GET HER CUP OF HOT CHOCOLATE ATOP THAT HILL IN VIENNA. AND WHEN SHE TOLD US SHE'D COMPLETE HER MEDICAL BOARDS IN A YEAR OR SO. WE HAVE NO DOUBTS. THEN SHE SAYS SHE’S HEADED TO COLORADO NEXT MONTH TO LEARN HOW TO SKI.

HARRY SMITH:

Happy Thanksgiving.

MERY SMITH:

Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving to you to.

(END TAPE)

DAVID GREGORY:

I love that, Andrea, the Boston Herald wrote about the courage of the survivors of Boston. the eloquence of some of these of some of these survivors has had a huge impact.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

But that story -- it is incredibly inspiring. What gratitude we all have to her.

DAVID GREGORY:

We all have so many of these people who -- maimed and who get that idea that they are humbled by the fact that they’re still alive.

STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE:

Their strength is amazing and you see them and you ask yourself, ‘If it were me, would I have it in me to be that strong and to look at it as an opportunity to live differently, to change.’

DAVID GREGORY:

Great story. Alright, we’re going to come back with our roundtable. Talk a little bit about foreign policy THE CHALLENGES FACING THE U.S. OVERSEAS AT THE MOMENT: IRAN, AFGHANISTAN, AND JUST THIS WEEKEND: INCREASING TENSIONS WITH CHINA...HOW IS THE PRESIDENT HANDLING IT ALL? WE’RE BACK WITH OUR ROUNDTABLE RIGHT AFTER THIS.

***Commercial Break***

DAVID GREGORY:

Now, some of this week’s “Images to Remember.”

(MUSIC) (“IMAGES TO REMEMBER” SEGMENT)

DAVID GREGORY:

I did love the guy on Twitter, "Pour Me Coffee," who wrote, "Good job today, Sports, good job."

(OVERTALK) (LAUGHTER)

DAVID GREGORY:

We're not talking about anymore sports, because we're running out of time nuthin' and get in trouble. But you're here with First Read Sunday, a lot to look forward to now in the week ahead, especially surely they can get a budget deal, with everything going so well on health care.

DAVID BROOKS:

Well, there's a bunch of December deadlines, right?

DAVID GREGORY:

Yeah.

DAVID BROOKS:

The first big one, December 13th, Patty Murray, Senate Budget Senate Leader for Democrats on the budget, House Republican Leader Paul Ryan, when it comes to the budget. They've got to come up with a pledge, a top line number that they're agreeing to, saying, "In order to avoid a shutdown in January."

Remember, we run out of funding in January. So December 13th is when they have to come up with this line. And I don't want to get into sequester and all of these issues. But it is can they even just come to this very, very small agreement? I think they will. Democrats have a little leverage here, David, because Republicans don't want the story to get away from health care. So Democrats could use that, actually, to get a little more of their way. Because the Republicans don't want to shut things down.

DAVID GREGORY:

So a couple more quick ones. A lot of people ask me, as we get into 2014, the election year, do the Republicans have a shot in the Senate?

CHUCK TODD:

I think they do, but there's going to be a whole-- one more big retirement that we're looking at. Thad Cochran, Republican from Mississippi, and in December, right before the holidays, before an election year, there's always the surprise retirements. You never know which party, are there some Democrats, who just don't like it in the Senate, maybe first-termers. You know, you always hear Mark Warner doesn't like it, he's up. And, you know, there's no sign that he's going to retire.

Does a Lindsay Graham get tired of the challenges from the right? These are-- there's always that one surprise that we weren't expecting. But Thad Cochran is the decision we're trying to find out. The big take-away no matter what happens in 2014, the Senate's getting more conservative, period.

DAVID GREGORY:

We'll get into some discussion here on foreign policy. Starting with this Afghanistan deadline, here's The Washington Post today. U.S. Ways cost zero option in Afghanistan.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, and that's because Karzai won't sign this deal. Susan Rice went over there to try to save it, and she couldn't save the National Security Advisor with the president. Basically, personal emissary, president going over the thing, going, "What's going on? I thought we agreed to this whole deal. Why haven't you signed it?" Next step could be do you send Kerry over there? Do you send Biden over there? Does the president himself have to get this done? They can't seem to get this done by the end of the year.

DAVID GREGORY:

Andrea, let me-- I want to get to Iran, as well, as difficult as Afghanistan is. Here, and in reporting over the weekend, Rouhani, President Rouhani in Iran saying, "Oh no, we're going to enrich uranium." Is there any reason to think that Iran, at the end of the six month period, actually gives up its own nuclear option?

ANDREA MITCHELL:

No. Iran is now cementing that. Rohani went on the-- in an individual with The Financial Times. And this is creating big problems with Iran's neighbors, the UAE, the Emiratis, the Saudis. The Emiratis gave up their right to enrich. And now the Saudis already paid for a nuclear program with Pakistan. All they have to do is call that debt in and say, "Send it over." Proliferation is a real threat. But the other question from the White House is, "What are the options?"

DAVID GREGORY:

Well, isn't it also a question, too, about who gets to decide? Israel having its own nuclear capacity, who gets to decide who's a nuclear power, not the United States?

(OVERTALK)

DAVID GREGORY:

--the ability to direct that?

DAVID BROOKS:

No. But our policy should be that those who have it should keep it, and those who don't, shouldn't get it. And that's just the root to stability in the Middle East. And we're sort of losing that. The problem with Iran is it's not like negotiating with the Soviets in the '80s. They lsot faith, the Soviets, in their own system. The Iranians still believe in revolution. They still have that religious fervor. And that's why it's dangerous, because they have the religious fervor, combined with nuclear weapons, that's just bad.

DAVID GREGORY:

Mayor, as you look at some of your own priorities, you were talking about it before, health care limitation being one of them, you've got issues like Afghanistan, but principally, Iran, that could become an even larger issue here in his second term, the President's second term, that could crowd out some of the other issues. Does that concern you?

STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE:

It really doesn't concern me, because, underneath all of that is, to me, the fact that Americans are war-weary. I think that was very clear in 2008, 2012. People want other options on the table. So, you know, what is your other option? You have to come up with something else. Because there's no tolerance for us to enter into another war.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

And the president knows that, yeah.

DAVID GREGORY:

What about what's happening with China? Give me the brief primer on that. The President's talked about a pivot to Asia. And now you have China not so comfortable with that, flexing its muscles there in the East China Sea.

ANDREA MITCHELL:

This is threatening. And the chance of miscalculation, China declaring ownership over these uninhabited islands. It's a direct challenge to Japan. The U.S. says it will stand by Japan. The vice President's going to Tokyo on a previously planned trip, arriving tomorrow, and then onto China.

And with stand with Japan. We're sending our B-52s. But we're warning commercial aviation to stay out of that zone without properly warning the Chinese. We don't want to recognize China's unilateral demand that it owns this disputed territory. And a confrontation could ensue.

DAVID GREGORY:

China will assert its importance. Yet diplomatically, militarily, even perhaps economically in 2014, it may not be the U.S. is equal on these questions.

DAVID BROOKS:

Yeah, no. It's a weird mixture. It's really a psychological problem. China is a weird mixture of an extreme superiority complex and an extreme inferiority complex.

DAVID GREGORY:

Yeah.

DAVID BROOKS:

It's like, you know, a lot of people in Washington, actually. (LAUGHTER) And so how do you deal with somebody like that? My view is you just embrace them and put them in-- keep them in the order.

DAVID GREGORY:

All right.

DAVID BROOKS:

And constant embrace.

DAVID GREGORY:

We are going to leave it there. Thank you all very much for the discussion today. Appreciate it very much. That is it for us today. We'll be back next week, in New York next week. If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

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