At the intersection of politics and pop culture, Sen. Bill Cassidy got jumped. The Louisiana Republican went on Jimmy Kimmel to explain his attempt at a bipartisan healthcare bill before getting absolutely skewered off air by that partisan funny man.
Why would Cassidy do an interview with a comedian who got his big start instructing women on the street to figure out what was down his pants before palling around with former President Barack Obama? “I actually didn’t know who Jimmy Kimmel was,” Cassidy explained at a Washington Examiner editorial board.
By all accounts, the physician turned senator was making a good-faith effort to explain a complex issue on a popular television show. Cassidy even helped coin the Kimmel test back in May: “that no family should be denied medical care, emergency or otherwise, because they can't afford it.” When Kimmel balked at provisions inside the Graham-Cassidy Obamacare overhaul in September, the comedian accused the politician of lying “right to my face.” The moment went viral and dominated the news.
The comedian would later admit he got most of his material from Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. He would own up to the fact that he was parroting Democrat talking points.
But Cassidy doesn’t regret the unsuccessful effort. He likens the whole episode to the reason why he speaks at historically black universities. In addition to representing those students in his district, Cassidy explains that “the people in the middle look at how I interact with those who will never vote for me and then make a judgement.”
“With Kimmel, I did not know that he would just take Schumer’s talking points, never call me for rebuttal, and go to press on that.... “It just seems the decent thing to do if you’re going to call someone out to give them call beforehand.”
None of this has persuaded Cassidy that late night comedy is a lost cause. Sen. Ted Cruz goes on Kimmel. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., gives “Noah Trevor” interviews, Cassidy says, reversing the first and last name of the Comedy Central comedian. “My gosh,” he adds, “Trump just made an art form of it. Can you argue with Trump’s success?”
More importantly though, can Cassidy say that his adventure on late night television was a success? Can he say that it helped advance the GOP goal of Obamacare repeal?
“I will quote Edmund Burke,” Cassidy says borrowing from the 18th century philosopher and English politician, “that which would seem to have happier results in the beginning can have unfortunate consequences down the road.”
“I think it’s sometimes hard to predict,” he says, “You just do what you think you absolutely can understand to be the good thing to do upfront and then you just accept the consequences down the road.”