SARKOZY ON HEALTH CARE DEBATE: ‘IT’S DIFFICULT TO BELIEVE’…. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, once a European darling to American conservatives, has been keeping an eye on the U.S. debate over health care. Speaking at Columbia University yesterday, the French leader expressed some astonishment at what he saw. (via Kevin Drum)

“Welcome to the club of states who don’t turn their back on the sick and the poor,” Sarkozy said, referring to the U.S. health care overhaul signed by President Barack Obama last week.

From the European perspective, he said, “when we look at the American debate on reforming health care, it’s difficult to believe.”

“The very fact that there should have been such a violent debate simply on the fact that the poorest of Americans should not be left out in the streets without a cent to look after them … is something astonishing to us.”

I imagine it’s all the more astonishing when we have unemployed cancer patients expressing their opposition to improvements in the health care system because they fear government programs and benefits.

European astonishment is understandable. I’ve followed the debate as closely as just about anyone, and I’ve found it hard to believe, too.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.