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THE SITUATION ROOM
Doctors and Nurses from Around the World Arrive in Haiti; Medical Supplies Still Stockpiled at the Airport; Child Victims Suffering; Family's Wish Come True; President Obama vs. His Image
Aired January 23, 2010 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Aftershocks in Haiti, almost two weeks after the quake. Millions of people in need of food, water and shelter, thousands of bodies buried in mass graves and everyone wondering can this ravaged nation rebuild?
Also, one year after taking office, has president Obama lost touch with average Americans? This hour, insight and candid images of a president now facing a world of change.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
For the millions of Haitians who are hungry, thirsty, homeless and injured, right now help can't come fast enough. And for all too many earthquake victims, help still hasn't come at all. Here at CNN, we're dedicated to staying on this story and asking tough questions in the days and weeks ahead. No correspondent has put it in more time and energy and passion into this reporting from Haiti than CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Doctor Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay is joining us now.
Sanjay, have things gotten better or worse over these nearly two weeks you've been there?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they certainly is gotten better, Wolf, there is no question about that. But, remember where we started. First of all, where Haiti was even the day before the earthquake, we talked about this a lot, but obviously this is a country that is very impoverished. As a result, you have that affecting everything, including the medical infrastructure.
Few hospitals, so many patients, one of the lowest physician-to- patient ratios any where in the world. And right during the time of the earthquake, obviously, a lot of people sort of just figuring out how to react to the earthquake at least initially.
Wolf, obviously, a lot of people died during the earthquake. A lot of people lived. But there were a lot of people who were sort of caught in between, if you will. They were alive but just dramatically injured. And that's where the medical focus has been for the last couple of weeks. At first, you know there were stories of hardly any resources at all. Forget antibiotic and pain medications, simply couldn't even get IVs, water, or just basic supplies to these people. That has started to improve. There is 300 water and food stations now around the city. MREs, which are known as meals ready-to-eat, those have been dropped off, about 600,000 of them. So that has improved.
But there is still this frustrating nagging issue of getting some of these basic medical supplies, antibiotics, which can prevent potentially life-threatening infections, pain medication to ease suffering at this time, and instruments to perform these operations, which we have talked so much about. It is better but nowhere near where it should be, Wolf, certainly not this far out.
BLITZER: And I take it the country could use a whole lot more doctors, nurses, medical supplies, and sophisticated equipment which we sort of take for granted here in the United States, but which would be essential in keeping people who survive, but are badly injured, alive.
GUPTA: Yeah, you know, it is interesting because every natural disaster sort of has its own personality. You don't know exactly what you're going to get. With the tsunami, for example, there were people who died, but the people who lived, for the most part, weren't injured. They needed food, they needed water. They didn't need a lot of these medical supplies that we're talking about.
As far as personnel goes, actually boots on the ground, that has improved probably the most significantly when it comes to medical care. A lot of doctor and nurses have shown up from all over the world. People flying in to the Dominican Republic, coming across the border. Some planes, as you know, Wolf, have been able to land at the airport at Port-Au-Prince.
So, personnel-wise I think they're coming up to speed. But the other issue, the supplies, the instruments, the medications, that we are talking about, that is still not up to snuff. I will say that I have visited the airport, I've seen some of these places where they have stockpiles of these particular supplies, and it is particularly irksome because so many of the supplies are here in the country, here in the city, even, but getting them distributed from the airport to these critically devastated locations, it has been a real challenge. It is unclear as to exactly why that is.
But supplies in the city, getting them distributed now, that really is going to be the goal over next week and several more days after that.
BLITZER: How worried are you, Sanjay, about disease, whether meningitis or some of these other diseases breaking out, given the widespread unsanitary conditions, shall we say, all over the place, including a lot of mass graves, open graves with bodies?
GUPTA: Well, you know, it is interesting, people always talk about a potential second wave of disease. And I have heard it described as something that could be a bigger killer than the earthquake itself. If you look back through history, including other natural disasters, a second wave, at least a significant second wave, often doesn't occur.
There is concern. Don't get me wrong, about the diseases that could spread person to person. There is concern about diseases that can spread through the water. When it comes to these bodies, for example, dead bodies in the streets, obviously very emotionally devastating to continue to see these bodies, but from the public health standpoint, these bodies don't necessarily pose a public health risk, not a significant one. When a body dies, the organisms that could potentially be catastrophic, those organisms often die with the body as well.
If there say huge rainfall, for example, and all of a sudden the water supply becomes contaminated, that would be a problem. If you had an outbreak of typhoid fever, or something like that, for example, that would be a problem. Respiratory illnesses can spread in close quarters. And you can see behind me even tents, people living in close quarters, that can be a problem.
As far as things like measles, hepatitis, cholera, those are a potential concern, and we haven't seen those yet. Talking to public health officials, I think the risk is surprisingly, in a good way, rather low.
BLITZER: Good to hear about that. We have seen some pictures of violence, some looting, but you traveled all over Port-au-Prince and the whole area. Give us some perspective.
GUPTA: Well, you know, the perspective is this. You have people who have been without basic supplies, some of them, for a long time now. Haiti is Haiti in terms of its climate. It is hot. People are thirsty all the time. They have been dehydrated from maybe being stuck in buildings after the earthquake.
Frankly, I expected a lot more in terms of violence. I expected a lot more in terms of desperation. There have been isolated cases of violence. There is a man not too long ago, I was told, that was stoned to death not too far from here. He was accused of trying to steal something and was sort of citizen justice. And there have been other sort of descriptions of potential violence as well.
But there are also other stories of people waiting in line for hours under this Haiti hot sun, waiting for water, waiting in order, no pushing, no shoving, no armed guards, waiting patiently to get that water. I think for the most part it would be hard to generalize and say there is a lot of violence in Port-au-Prince or Haiti. I think for the most part, at least what I've seen, it seems to have been pretty isolated.
BLITZER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our chief medical correspondent doing some incredible, incredible courageous reporting for us. On behalf of all of our viewers, Sanjay, thanks so much for what you and our entire team on the ground in Haiti have been doing. Appreciate it very much. Thanks, Sanjay.
GUPTA: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: In the struggle to save the living, there is the urgent question of what to do about Haiti's tens of thousands of dead. Why so many are being buried in mass graves.
And dropping desperately needed water to a refugee camp in Haiti. It is man survival for another day. Stay with us, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Ten of thousands are now confirmed dead in Haiti's earthquake with the number climbing each day, as more bodies are recovered. Many are winding up in mass graves. Once again, here's CNN's Anderson Cooper.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): From a distance it looks like an ordinary land fill. The true horror is clear only up close. The dead of Port-au-Prince are slowly disappearing. Now we know where many end up.
(On camera): It looks like this group of bodies was just brought here and bulldozed pushed to the side. What I didn't realize when I first got here is this entire mound is already filled with bodies. As you walk, you come across a hand sticking out from the dirt, you see a foot sticking out.
(voice over): There is a bulldozer here, but no one is in it. This is not a place where the living stay long.
(On camera): Cover your nose as best you can. The smell is overwhelming, the stench of death is everywhere in the air here. The thing that really stands out is the silence. That's what is so eerie. You're in this field, and it is incredibly quiet. All you hear is the wind blowing and the buzzing of flies.
(voice over): We saw at least 100 bodies clearly visible. It is likely hundreds more lie under these mounds. In order to find this spot, we followed a dump truck that seemed to be filled with debris. When we first glanced at it the truck has left, but this is what they dumped out. Once you get closer, you realize it is - yes, there is debris there, but it is actually human remains. It is the debris that was used to wrap the people. Looks like there say refrigerator over there, it was actually a refrigerator, someone who was put in that and they must have used that to carry the corpse.
In Sri Lanka in wake of the tsunami, there I saw a lot of mass graves, that's how most of the people there were buried. But at least authorities there were able to photograph the -- many of the victims and post them at morgues so loved ones, family members, friends could come and try to at least identify their dead.
Here there is nothing like that. There is not that level of organization. And there is no system for identification at this point. No records are being kept of names of the dead. A lot of people are just going to simply disappear and no one will ever know what happened to them.
(voice over): Another truck approaches, another load of the dead. Who they are, who they were, what lives they led, none of that now will ever be known. Anderson Cooper, CNN, Port-au-Prince.
BLITZER: The most basic necessities are making a difference between life and death in Haiti. Correspondent John Irvine went along on a water drop with the U.S. Army.
JOHN IRVINE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): More than 50,000 people are now calling this camp their home. They're asking God to hear them. They're asking for salvation, and while it is not heaven sent, help is coming from above.
The American pilots call this Landing Zone Six. It is actually a golf and country club that they have turned into a distribution center because it is on a hill just above the camp. For hours, Haitians wait behind a barricade made of poolside chairs and loungers. It is frustrating, and it is hot, but it is also orderly. The soldiers are from the 82nd Airborne Division, and they are glad to be on high ground.
(On camera): When the Americans first arrived here on Saturday, they began by carrying the water all the way down the hill to the makeshift camp. But inevitably they were mobbed. That became untenable, so they set up this system instead. They have got no food, just water, but the Haitians gratefully accept it.
After a mark is put on their hand, every person is given just one bottle. But look at the delight on the children's faces.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're welcome.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're welcome.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. We thank you, Sir.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're welcome.
LT. COL. MIKE FOSTER, U.S. ARMY: For these people, given what they have been through, and the quantity of their need, I think it is an enormous help.
IRVINE (On camera): And for you, in your mind, an important beginning?
FOSTER: A huge beginning. We have to start somewhere. And right now, you know, enormous work is being done all across the country. And this is just one of those points at which we have pushed out into the city.
IRVINE (voice over): There is an American doctor here. He's treating the walking wounded who have made it up the hill from the camp. He's very good with the children. The Americans plan to establish more distribution centers, but right now this place feels like a small drop in a very big ocean. But nobody doubts it's worth it.
FOSTER: Hopefully this will be at least something of a model, or at least lessons we can learn as we continue to widen our footprint and to widen the help we're pushing out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
IRVINE: How just a bottle of water --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're welcome.
IRVINE: -- can make a big difference in a sorry place.
As we left Landing Zone Six, we couldn't help but wonder for how long will this be a capital city of tents and hardship? John Irvine, ITV News, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
BLITZER: Doctors in Haiti have been using vodka to sterilize instruments because they don't have the appropriate medical alcohol. Our Doctor Sanjay Gupta has seen the shortage of medical equipment firsthand. So he went searching for some supplies himself. Wait until you see what he found.
And there isn't much rebuilding going on in Haiti, at least not yet. Can the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere ever flourish, or even be whole again?
BLITZER: Relief supplies are making it into Haiti, but there is a logjam over at the airport, which is keeping vital material backed up. To get supplies into the hands of those who urgently need them, CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Doctor Sanjay Gupta took some matters into his own hands.
GUPTA (On camera): It is like everywhere we go, I just walking through the airport even, outside the airport, people are saying we need supplies, how do we get them? We know they're in there, how do we get them out here? People just keep asking me that same question over and over again. All right. So now we're going to go into the airport here and see if the next step of this works or not. Just take a look out here at all the people that are waiting. I can tell you a lot of people are waiting because they're simply hoping some of the supplies make it outside the airport and to them.
OK, we're now in the airport. It took about five minutes to get in here. We're in the airport. Give you an idea, obviously, the airport itself is still very, very desolate inside. But we're going to get to the air strip. That's where we're hearing so many of the supplies are.
I don't know if you can hear me or not, but when we talk about the supplies sitting here, just take a look. I mean, boxes and boxes of supplies, all kinds of different, formula in there, there is antibiotics, pain medication, all sorts of different things.
I just want to get some antibiotics.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll walk you over there.
GUPTA: Do we check in here first?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what we'll do, we'll walk around.
GUPTA: They seem very much like they want to help. Going in to see if we can get some antibiotics, at least, to try to take care of these kids and find out. There is a lot of supplies here, though.
We're able to basically walk into a couple of these tents, tell people what we needed and get a lot of supplies here, lots of antibiotics, lots of pain medications, all sorts of things, to try and treat some of the injured we have seen. These are medications that people haven't had up until now. Took us about 15 minutes. We got a bunch of it. We're going to try to distribute this to the hospital.
Basically just went into the airport and just tried to take as many of the things that we thought you guys would need based on what the twins were telling us. So some of this probably broad spectrum antibiotics, lots of different pain medications, all that screaming this morning, hopefully you can --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we take care of that.
GUPTA: Hopefully we can help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sanjay, thanks.
GUPTA: You're welcome.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
GUPTA: So we came here today, we were able to pick up some of those supplies ourselves, just asked people, and they gave them to us, right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
GUPTA: We took them to the hospital. They give it to them because kids, adults as well, need this stuff today. Does that surprise you, what I just described to you?
COL. BEN MCMULLEN, U.S. AIR FORCE: There is stuff here, waiting to be taken out, that's a true statement. Is it a lot? I can't speak to it. I will tell you the reason you probably got it is because everybody on this field, specifically U.S. government side, is dedicated to getting as much stuff outside as they can. Does it totally surprise me that some are doing without? No, it doesn't. Not totally. Do I hope it gets better? Without a doubt. We're doing our part to get things out there, certainly get things into the airport. And it is -- it is a shame. Because you would hope that everything could get out there within seconds. But that kind of infrastructure just isn't in place.
BLITZER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta doing some amazing reporting for us.
International experts are just beginning to look at how to rebuild Haiti. But with so much devastation, where do you even start? And what if the capital could be a safer place? Here's CNN's Jason Carroll.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Port-au-Prince is about to face many questions about its future. How does this city rebuild when there is still so much destruction? Should damage structures still standing be torn down? Eva Michelle isn't waiting for answers. Her house destroyed, she salvaged what she could, and watched as workers started demolishing it. It is being torn down the same way it was built, by unlicensed workers, no codes to follow on tearing down, or Michelle says, to build.
EVA MICHELLE, HOUSE DAMAGED IN EARTHQUAKE: No.
CARROLL (On camera): None?
MICHELLE: No, no.
CARROLL: No code?
CARROLL: No regulation?
CARROLL (voice over): Haitians say that's the way it is done. License is not required. Codes, where they even exist, not enforced. It is part of the reason so much was destroyed in the earthquake, and why structural engineers like Kit Miamoto, from California, are here now. KIT MIAMOTO, STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Remove those things, and they can go right into it.
CARROLL: This is Miamoto's first full day on the ground, with a nonprofit called the Pan-American Development Foundation. The goal, rapid assessments, meaning quickly investigate the structural integrity of 10 buildings a day. This was the ministry of finance. Its symbolic of what went wrong with many buildings, including the presidential palace.
MIAMOTO: That reinforced main wall, that's the brick and without no rebar. That's dangerous.
CARROLL: Miamoto says rebar can make a building more flexible when it shakes, but much of the city's businesses and homes use brick, without the reinforced steel bar.
(On camera): What do you do? Do you just demolish these buildings and then cart out all the debris and then start fresh?
MIAMOTO: It depends on. For example, this one, probably not salvageable but there are many buildings that can be repaired.
CARROLL: Engineers tell us when Port-au-Prince does rebuild, they have to use new building codes and make sure those codes are enforced.
(voice over): And engineers like Keith Martin, with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, say rebuilding or retro fitting is not something that can, or should, be rushed.
KEITH MARTIN, L.A. COUNTY FIRE SEARCH & RESCUE: You're talking, to be done correctly, something that is going to take years to do.
MARTIN: Years, to do it correctly.
CARROLL: Eva Michelle says she doesn't have the money right now to rebuild. But if she does, she hopes there are guidelines to show her, and the other people of Port-au-Prince a better way.
(On camera): It may be difficult to change old ways, and that is simply the reality here. But the engineers that we spoke to say at the very least Haiti needs to adopt uniform building codes for important buildings such as schools, hospitals, government buildings, as well. But they also recognize it is going to take an international effort in order to get it done. Jason Carroll, CNN, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
BLITZER: Gripping images of disaster as it happened. We have exclusive and dramatic videos of the earthquake in Haiti.
Plus, Haiti already had tens of thousands of orphans. Now there may be many, many thousands more. We're taking a closer look at their plight.
BLITZER: Few of us will ever experience an earthquake like the one that has devastated Haiti. But videotape of the disaster as it happened gives us an idea of how terrifying it was. CNN has obtained some exclusive video of the earthquake shot by an amateur from the balcony in the hills above Port-au-Prince. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God! I'm serious, here (ph) man! My house is, like, I thought the house was going to fall!
Here is another one! It's shaking again, (INAUDIBLE)! Oh, my God! (SPEAKING IN HAITIAN).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Here's another video shot by a missionary who was playing with children at an orphanage outside Port-au-Prince when the quake struck. We're glad to report none of these kids was hurt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Outside! Go, go, go! Go!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Here's another exclusive video. What you hear in this one is as gripping as what you see. Once again, none of these people was injured.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: More than a week after the earthquake, medical supplies are still not getting to where they're needed in Haiti fast enough. Many children are suffering with painful injuries.
Here's CNN's Anderson Cooper.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Outside the crumbling pediatric ward at General Hospital, a nurse sings of God and grace. You can't hear the singing inside the pediatric tent.
WANDA SMILEY (ph), INJURIED IN THE QUAKE: Mama!
COOPER: Because Wanda Smiley (ph) can't stop screaming. She's 11 years old. Her legs are broken. No one is sure exactly what else is wrong.
Nearby, a little boy with a broken leg sits silently, watching it all. His name is Johnny. He doesn't know his last name. His parents are dead, he has no clothes, and nowhere else to go.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now he has a broken leg, a broken foot, a femur as well as a broken - we have several fractures on that leg. But no one is here for him.
COOPER (on camera): What will happen to him?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last night, I did not sleep, thinking about Johnny, because I got up, I said maybe I should take Johnny home. And I said I know it's not going to be possible.
COOPER (voice-over): For kids whose parents are dead, there is no clear system. That's part of the planning that needs to be done.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't have much. That's all we have.
COOPER: Dominique Touissant, a Haitian-American nurse from Harlem, doesn't cry in front of the children, but outside the tent, she's overcome by it all.
DOMINIQUE TOUISSANT, HAITIAN-AMERICAN NURSE: Everybody has infections. It seems as though to me like they're going to eventually die.
I don't even have something to wash my hands. I have one bottle of hand sanitizer. We can't do anything under sterile technique. It's impossible not to have, you know, horrible infections. You know, the medications we're giving them, we could use some stronger medications. We don't have them.
COOPER (on camera): It also seems like a lot of the medication - the supplies you do have are not built for children, not geared for children.
TOUISSANT: They're not. Like, I just went to get an oxygen tank. It took forever to get the tank, took forever to get a mask. The mask we have is probably too big to even fit on my face, it looks like.
We have no - the needles on our syringes are too long. We have nothing for the kids. It's like the kids are forgotten, almost.
COOPER: It's like the kids are forgotten?
TOUISSANT: Yes. So we're just doing the best we can. I - I mean, it's frustrating. I'm overwhelmed.
COOPER (voice-over): It is overwhelming, for nurses and children. The injured keep coming. There's no space to be had.
Anderson Cooper, CNN, Port-au-Prince.
BLITZER: Now to one good story from Haiti. Last week we introduced you to Paul and Marisa Brinks. It was the first time since the earthquake they were able to see and talk to the two children they had been trying to adopt from Haiti, Samar (ph) and Manuel (ph).
MARISA BRINKS, ADOPTIVE PARENT: It's amazing.
PAUL BRINKS, ADOPTIVE PARENT: We're just so relieved to see that they're doing all right. Oh, it's so good. It's so good to see them.
M. BRINKS: We just want to send our hugs.
P. BRINKS: Yes. Hugs and kisses, guys.
BLITZER: Have - have you met them before?
P. BRINKS: We were able to meet Manuel (ph) a couple of times, two - a year and a half ago in October, and then I was able to meet with him again in - in June of this year. So, yes. There - there's definitely a bond there.
BLITZER: But there were still lots of questions about whether the adoption could proceed with so much of the paperwork lost in the rubble. We've now learned the adoption has been cleared and Paul and Marisa were in fact reunited with Samar (ph) and Manuel (ph) in Miami.
The State Department says so far 146 children from Haiti have come to the United States, and dozens more are scheduled to leave. UNICEF says there were 380,000 orphans in Haiti before the earthquake. Relief organizations are still registering the children orphaned by the earthquake.
With so much sadness in Haiti, something to make you open your arms wide and smile. A boy fights for life and cheats death. It's an amazing story with one amazing picture you don't want to miss.
BLITZER: We'll go back to Haiti in a few moments.
But another huge story we've been covering this week, the man who changed things for the president's agenda overnight, wasting no time getting here to Washington to meet with his new colleagues.
We're talking about Republican Massachusetts Senator-Elect Scott Brown. He went to the Capitol Hill on Thursday after capturing the late Ted Kennedy Senate's seat. Brown's stunning win has forced Democrats to go back to the drawing board on health care reform now that they'll no longer have their 60 seat super majority in the Senate.
The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears to be ruling out one last ditch option for getting the reform passed. She admits she lacks the votes in the House to get the Senate's current health care reform bill through.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: In its present form, without any change, I don't think it's possible to pass the Senate bill in the House. There's some part of our caucus that would say, well, let's just take these pieces.
We recognize health care has to be done. Health care reform must be done. Let's take some pieces of it and go forward, and there are others who are saying let's just get it done and move on. But everybody recognizes that something needs to be done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: In the new issue of "Time Magazine", our sister publication, President Obama's speaking rather frankly about his tough first year in office, and "Time's" Joe Klein draws some fascinating conclusions about the president's personality behind that charismatic image. Is there really a different reality?
Joe Klein is joining us right now. Joe, thanks very much for coming in. Thanks for writing the - the piece, "Now What?" which is on the cover. We're showing our viewers.
You point out that he's a great communicator, he's a great orator, a great speaker, yet they blame a lot of the problems they've had over the past year for a lack of communication. Explain what's going on here.
JOE KLEIN, TIME MAGAZINE: Well, I don't know whether - I don't know whether they - they in the White House blame him, but I think that there have been some really serious communication problems. And there's a sense in the country, and the president reacted to this in the piece, there's a sense in the country that he's really lost track of the anguish of average Americans.
You know, Bill Clinton always felt everybody's pain, Barack Obama has spent an awful lot of time as a policy wonk this year. He admits that, and - and kind of lost track of the country.
I asked him, you know, how he would react to someone living in the suburbs of Boston who just saw him making deals with big labor on health care, and Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson and all the other deals that have been made, and - and he - he pushed back against that a little bit. But, ultimately, he acknowledged that it didn't look good, that the - the wrong impression have been conveyed.
And I really think, Wolf, that, in the end, they feel that they've been kidnapped, that this administration has been kidnapped by health care reform and that they're kind of fighting to get off of Reid- Pelosi island.
BLITZER: Is it dead, do you think, health care reform right now?
KLEIN: I think that - I think the likelihood that it is - that it's dead. There are pieces of it that can - that can be passed. You know, you can expand coverage a little bit, maybe to the parents of children who are eligible for the CHIP Program. You might be able to repeal the antitrust exemptions that the health insurance companies have.
But this great comprehensive sort of plan that they hung everything on this year probably is dead. And look at - you saw today the first steps going forward. I mean, there were three ways the president is going to proceed now. One is as a populist going against the banks. We saw that today. Another is as a deficit cutter. You'll see that in the State of the Union address next week. And the third is, you know, as the infrastructure guy, the guy who's going to provide jobs, you know.
Remember all those jobs that were - projects that were supposed to be shovel ready a year ago? Well, there were no shovel-ready projects, and that part of the - of the big stimulus package, all of those big infrastructure projects, are about to come on board the next three months and they'll be emphasizing that.
BLITZER: One of the most fascinating pieces in the cover story you write in "Time Magazine" is on - on the president of the United States as a loner. Explain what you - you - what you saw and what you've learned.
KLEIN: Well, you know, it's interesting. He really is about no drama. This is a guy who would rather spend - rather have what he calls "think time" than really, you know, kicking back and gossiping with aides and that sort of thing.
One of the most amazing stories was the morning that he won the Nobel Peace Prize, he goes into a National Security Council meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Eeverybody stands up when he comes in, they sit down, and nobody congratulates him. Nobody applauds. And he doesn't say anything.
You know, Bill Clinton would have been hugging everybody in sight. Ronald Reagan would have made a joke, like, first I'd like to thank the Aca - the Academy. But there's a kind of coolness here, a distance that is very admirable in some contexts, especially when dealing with crises, but it leaves people a little put off.
BLITZER: How does he get out of this current crisis after one year in office? Other presidents have had major problems. They've managed to rebound. How does he do it?
KLEIN: Well, I think, as I said, he's - he's got to change the topic. He's got to get people to understand that - that he's addressing their concerns. I think people are very concerned about the two bigs - big Wall Street, big government. He started to address the big Wall Street issue this - today, but the question now is how is he going to address big government since he's - to do that, he's going to have to go up against his - his own party, which is really the party of government.
BLITZER: Joe Klein has the cover story in the new issue of "Time Magazine". Joe, thanks very much.
KLEIN: My pleasure, Wolf.
BLITZER: President Obama's speaking skills will be on display next week when he gives the State of the Union Address to Congress and the nation. Join us for our primetime coverage beginning at 8:00 PM Eastern, Wednesday, right here on CNN.
With this week marking President Obama's first year in office, we're looking at some items from his term by the numbers. With a signature, the president has signed 125 bills into law. He also issued 39 executive orders. The president's held three primetime presidential addresses, and five White House news conferences.
He's also racked up plenty of miles on Air Force One. The president's visited 20 countries, from Canada and China to Trinidad and Turkey, and he's visited 28 US states, 70 lost in the election and 21 others he won.
When the president is not traveling, living or working at the White House, what he does, who he meets, even how he likes his hair cut is fodder for fascination and the focus of many photos.
PETE SOUZA, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHER: I have a unique vantage point, for sure, and it's been, you know, just fascinating to watch his presidency up close.
This was a staff person who - who had come in for a departure photo, family photo, and the young son had said to the president, I just had my haircut like Barack Obama. Can I see if my head feels like yours?
I try to document everything that he does as president.
There's one where he's dancing with his wife at the Governor's Ball in the East Room. He was singing along to Earth, Wind and Fire as - as they danced.
There's one with his young niece, Savita, in Martha's Vineyard, sort of a touching, you know, human moment, I think.
I figured that the girls at some point would go out in the snow, and I just asked the - the White House Ushers Office to let me know when they were outside.
Any time three presidents get together is kind of an interesting scene. So here they are in the doorway of the Oval Office. This is right after they had - had gone out and given statements in - in the Rose Garden and President Bush was - was joking with President Clinton.
The family toured the Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument. It was on a Sunday night. The picture here of the president with Sasha, they're just looking at one of Thomas Jefferson's speeches on the wall of the Jefferson Memorial.
I think he understands that I'm there to document his presidency for history. I think I also have a good sense of - of his mood and - and when, you know, when it's time to back off.
BLITZER: We want to thank White House photographer Pete Souza for those great, great pictures.
A controversial Supreme Court ruling is a game changer for American politics. We'll talk about it with our Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
And after days of despair, one boy's mile-wide smile brings some hope to Haiti and the world.
BLITZER: We'll get back to Haiti in a moment, but in a stunning ruling, the US Supreme Court has overall government limits on campaign spending, allowing big business, unions, special interest groups to spend much more freely on federal elections. The 5 to 4 decision could have an immediate impact on this year's Congressional campaigns.
Let's bring in our senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin as an authority on the Supreme Court. Jeff, what does this mean in practical terms?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This means that corporations and unions and any nonprofit organizations can spend as much money as they want, independent of campaigns, to elect or defeat the candidates of their choice. That means Exxon, General Electric, Time Warner, our parent company, can go buy time, run commercials, try to defeat the candidates they don't like or elect the ones that they don't.
It's a change, a dramatic change in the law, and it could have big impact right away.
BLITZER: It a 5 to 4 decision, the liberals saying you can have these restrictions, the conservatives saying, no, because free speech is at stake. The swing justice, Justice Kennedy, he went with the conservatives and as a result, all these McCain/Feingold laws, most of them at least, are out the window.
TOOBIN: Well, what's - what's really become apparent here is that the current conservative majority in the Supreme Court really has a great deal of skepticism, hostility for the whole idea that you can regulate campaigns. One thing that was left hanging out there in this - in this decision, it wasn't addressed, was can corporations contribute directly to political campaigns?
It's been illegal since 1907. But, if you follow the reasoning of today's decision, it certainly seems like the conservatives who are in charge of the court right now are moving in the direction of allowing campaign contributions by companies to candidates.
BLITZER: We heard the president and others today saying they hope Congress will take some action to reverse this decision. Can they? How much leeway is there? TOOBIN: It doesn't seem to me like there is a lot of room for Congress to regulate here, because what the court is saying is the - the regulations that they had in McCain/Feingold are too intrusive. What you might get is certain labeling.
Everybody is familiar with political commercials that say, you know, I'm John McCain and I - and I authorize this message. You may have a requirement for the CEO of the company to say, I am so-and-so and I approve this message. But in terms of stopping those ads, it's very hard for me to imagine how that could happen.
BLITZER: If anyone ever had any doubt how significant the United States Supreme Court is, let that doubt go away on this day.
BLITZER: Thank you, Jeffrey. Jeffrey Toobin...
BLITZER: ... our Senior Legal Analyst.
Amid the devastation and sadness in Haiti, a smile that will warm your heart. Our Jeanne Moos has that.
BLITZER: After more than a week of wrenching images from Haiti, the one you're about to see lifted spirits around the world.
CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a most unusual look.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We usually go for laughs, but with this story, we'll settle for a smile - what a smile!
MATTHEW MCDERMOTT, AMERICARES/FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHER: We were amazed. I mean, we have - afterwards, we just kind of almost sat there, like, did that just happen? We - we had to go back and look at the back of our cameras to check.
MOOS: A 7-year-old kid named Kiki, dug out alive and well after being buried for 7 and a half days. A crew from NBC shot video of the rescue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can relax (ph).
MOOS: When they finally reached the boy, he was scared and wouldn't come out until rescuers brought a relative in a yellow tank top to coax him. His pants may be lost, but he was found.
MCDERMOTT: He was like a rabbit out of the hat. He popped out, arms was straight up in the air, and just turned and smiled. MOOS: A tattooed freelance photographer from New York City named Matthew McDermott captured the image while shooting for the humanitarian group, AmeriCares.
MOOS (on camera): Do you think - I mean, this is kind of crass, but do you think of things like Pulitzer Prize winning when you take a photo like that?
MCDERMOTT: No. No, not at all. That would be a little arrogant. We don't sit around, patting ourselves on the back. Around every corner there's a photograph here that needs to be taken.
MOOS (voice-over): The rescuers were from units based in New York City and Virginia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you feeling right now?
JOE DOWNEY, NEW YORK TASK FORCE ONE: Unbelievable. I just want to hug my compadre, Dario Gomez (ph). This is an unbelievable feeling. (INAUDIBLE).
MOOS: They also rescued Kiki's older sister.
The image McDermott shot will likely be used by AmeriCares to inspire donations.
MOOS (on camera): From photos of an earthquake to photos from another earth shaking event, previously McDermott's most famous photos were from 9/11.
MOOS (voice-over): After shooting so much death in Haiti...
MOOS (on camera): Was that the biggest smile you ever saw on the littlest kid?
MCDERMOTT: It was amazing. I'm sorry. Lungs are a little messed up. I've been nine days of breathing death and dust.
MOOS (voice-over): Which makes this a breath of fresh air. Touchdown!
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: What a picture! What a great picture indeed. Thank you, Jeanne, for bringing it to us.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. Join us weekdays in THE SITUATION ROOM from 5:00 to 8:00 PM Eastern and every Saturday at 6:00 PM Eastern, right here on CNN, and at this time every weekend on CNN International.
The news continues next on CNN.