WASHINGTON--It's now official: So in vogue are attacks on President Obama that even his proclamation calling the nation to a day of Thanksgiving has become the focus of criticism. Presidential Thanksgiving messages are a routine bit of executive prose that most attentive citizens happily ignore in this moment of national gratitude.
WASHINGTON--When there is no good solution to a problem, a president has three options. One is to avoid the problem. The second is to pick the least bad of the available options. The third is to mix and match among the proposed solutions and minimize the long-term damage any decision will cause. Afghanistan has presented President Obama with exactly this situation, and he is soon likely to settle on something closest to the third approach. This will make no one very happy.
WASHINGTON--Normal human beings--let's call them real Americans--cannot understand why, 10 months after President Obama's inauguration, Congress is still tied down in a procedural torture chamber trying to pass the health care bill Obama promised in his campaign. Last year, the voters gave him the largest popular vote margin won by a presidential candidate in 20 years. They gave Democrats their largest Senate majority since 1976 and their largest House majority since 1992. Obama didn't just offer bromides about hope and change. He made quite specific pledges.
WASHINGTON--Imagine a time when government work was exciting, widely admired, and much sought after. It seems an outlandish thought at a moment when you cannot turn on your television without hearing government spoken of as almost an alien creature. It is cast as far removed from the lives of average Americans and more likely to destroy the achievements of private citizens than to accomplish anything worthwhile. True, we don't apply our anti-government sentiments to at least one group of Americans who draw government paychecks: our men and women in uniform.
WASHINGTON--For some years, Democrats have denounced parodies casting their party as utterly closed to the views of those who oppose abortion. Last weekend, Democrats proved conclusively that they are, indeed, a big tent--and many in the ranks are furious. From the outraged comments of the abortion rights movement, you'd think that Rep. Bart Stupak's amendment to the House version of the health care bill would all but overturn Roe v. Wade. No, it wouldn't.
WASHINGTON--Here's a story you may have missed because it flies in the face of the dreary conventional wisdom: When advocates of public programs take on the right-wing anti-government crowd directly, the government-haters lose. This is what happened in two statewide referendums last week that got buried under all of the attention paid to the governors' races in Virginia and New Jersey. In Maine, voters rejected a tax-limitation measure by a walloping 60 percent to 40 percent.
EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- Tuesday's elections were a rebuke to the right wing and a warning to Democrats. They were also a timely reminder that President Obama needs to tune up his celebrated political organization and find a way to make Americans feel hopeful again. The night's biggest loser was the national conservative political machine--the wealthy tax-cutters at the Club for Growth and the Palin-Limbaugh-Beck complex.
WASHINGTON--The next health care fight has already started. It's the battle to define the bill that President Obama will eventually sign as a victory for consumers, taxpayers and the common good. You might say this view is premature. Legislation has yet to pass the House or the Senate, there are differences between the two bodies, and some moderates still have doubts. But barring astoundingly self-defeating behavior by Democrats, a decent bill will get to Obama's desk.
WASHINGTON--Memo to Democrats: You will be defined by President Obama whether you like it or not, so you might as well embrace him for the benefits he can bring you. Memo to Republicans: Talk a right-wing game in your ideological magazines and at your tea parties if that makes you happy. But to win elections, your candidates had better look like middle-of-the-road problem-solvers. Those are the two outstanding lessons from the campaigns for next Tuesday's governors' races in New Jersey and Virginia. Both parties would be smart to apply them in 2010. In Virginia, Democrat R.
BOSTON -- Mayor Tom Menino looks around the elevator and reaches instinctively for the hand of the only person in the car he's never met. "Where are you from?" he asks the young man. "Somerville," the young man replies. The mayor almost recoils. "Somerville!" he exclaims with a dismissive wave--there are no votes for him in Somerville--and then says a word that sounds like: "Echhh!" It was a revealing moment for a mayor destined to go down as an American political legend. If Menino is re-elected on Nov.