It's hard to say why it happened, but all of a sudden Bill O'Reilly decided last night to stop tossing Sarah Palin the usual softball questions and Hannity Jobs she's become accustomed to during her tenure at Fox News. He asked her to finally get specific instead of bloviating in vague generalities about where and how she's achieve the budget cuts she's calling for.
It made for the entertaining sight of the Mama Grizzly growling growling at the Poppa Bear:
O'REILLY: Wait, wait, wait. Wait, wait, wait I just want to be very clear. So 55, anybody over keeps the social security that they have coming to them, but younger --
PALIN: When we --
O'REILLY: -- or whatever the revision is?
PALIN: -- when we talk about increasing -- when we talk about increasing the retirement age, there is a good proposal on the table, a good idea to look at age 55 that all of this does have to be looked at.
But we need to quit assuming that government can, better than we as individuals, plan our retirement for us than our security they're stating - -
O'REILLY: Ok, I got -- I got all that.
PALIN: -- and we need to --
O'REILLY: -- but I got to get specific here, Governor. All right, so what you're saying is instead of 52 it goes to 55. So you can't draw on it until 55. Some people want mandatory retirement age where you would have to take it raised up to about 67.
Are you for that? Do you want to raise that mandatory age to 67 retirement? Is that --
PALIN: Everything -- everything is going to have to change for those who are enrolled in the program now and will be enrolled in the program now. But we do not change the pension benefit --
O'REILLY: I -- I agree. The people who --
PALIN: -- of those who are receiving it now and that what's people care --
O'REILLY: -- brought in and the people who need it --
PALIN: And I really apologize that up here in Alaska we have the four second delay. So it's -- it's not an easy exchange --
PALIN: -- to try to -- to try to get my point across to you if you interrupt.
I gather that O'Reilly can interrupt President Obama 48 times in 10 minutes, and it's OK, but Heaven help the man who dares interrupt the Shrilla From Wasilla.
If there's anything O'Reilly hates, it's being lectured to by his guests -- that's his job, after all. So after Palin kept spouting meaningless, vague talking points, he kept going after her. In the end, he finally produced Palin's acknowledgement that she's in the "So Be It" camp when it comes to taking care of America's poor and unemployed:
O'REILLY: Ok. That's -- I -- I'm for that private thing and I'm for raising the ages.
Now, in your state, a lot of people depended on Medicaid, particularly people in the sub Arctic region up there and they're dependent on these government checks. You had to deal with that when you were the governor of Alaska.
So we're going to have to cut back there. Poor people are going to get hurt, poor people are going to get hurt, in the Medicare and Medicaid range. Are they not?
PALIN: Everything is going to have to change. Look, how can Michael Moore, for instance, as -- as you had said in your introduction, tell Americans that we're not going broke? We take in $2.2 trillion a year and yet we're paying out $3.5 trillion a year. What's in the water there in Hollywood and in DC for people to not want to understand or believe -- or trust what the reality is --
O'REILLY: Oh he's just not a truthful -- they are just not truthful people -- they're just not telling the truth.
PALIN: They're not truthful so we have to be truthful. And we have to deal with the reality --
O'REILLY: Ok but let's get to the poor people.
PALIN: -- and reality is we are going bankrupt and the only way that we're going to get out of the problem that we face is to cut, is to cut budgets --
O'REILLY: But let's --
PALIN: -- is to reform entitlements, and then to start a pro-growth agenda that's based on cutting taxes and incentivizing production and tapping our energy sources and again stop assuming that government can plan our economy for us.
O'REILLY: Ok. But what about the poor people who absolutely need the entitlements they get? You know in your state there are a lot of people on the dole, a lot.
PALIN: There will -- and there will always --
O'REILLY: So are you going to cut -- are you going to cut the subsidies going to people earning, say less than $15,000 a year? Is that going to happen?
PALIN: There is a need -- there is a need for a safety net for those who are disadvantaged and in some of the rural communities in Alaska where there's 80 percent unemployment, there is a disadvantage and there needs to be a safety net.
But you know why there is a disadvantage here in Alaska? Because the federal government has locked up our lands and not allowed us to tap into energy sources so that we can create more jobs. Less than one percent of Alaskan land is in the private sector hands.
Now, we asked the federal government and I've sued the federal government for allowance to be able to develop more so that people aren't of this entitlement mentality where they believe that the only way that they can get out of a disadvantaged stage is to have government provide for them.
If we had a robust economy here and all across the country, then we wouldn't have to be looking at these insolvent entitlement programs that yes, when -- when we start pulling the plug on some of them, there is going to be a shared burden across our country.
I just love those shared burdens, don't you? Especially when -- as always seems to be the case when Republicans talk about them -- working-class and poor people are the only ones doing all the sharing.
In the meantime, you have to wonder how much longer Palin is going to enjoy her free ride at Fox. If O'Reilly is toughening up on her, that probably means Roger Ailes is getting close to throwing her to the wolves.
UPDATE: Conservatives4Palin is claiming I "lied" in presenting a slightly faulty transcript. And indeed the transcript is slightly off. However, since it is a Lexis/Nexis transcript, I'm not really sure how this constitutes "lying."
Of course, even more interesting is that they seem to think that Bill O'Reilly was "destroyed" by Palin. I'm sure O'Reilly and the Fox execs who pay her will be interested to hear that too.
Might be time for someone's contract to end, I suspect.