WASHINGTON--Is there room in the Republican Party for genuine moderates? Truth to tell, the GOP can't decide. More precisely, it's deeply divided over whether it should allow any divisions in the party at all. That's why the brawl in a single congressional district in far upstate New York is drawing the eyes of the nation. Conservatives are determined to use the race to prove that there is no place in the party for heretics, dissidents or independents. President Obama set up the fight by nominating the district's former representative, John McHugh, as his Army secretary.
WASHINGTON--Will the young and hopeful abandon the political playing field to older voters who are angry? That is the quiet crisis confronting President Obama and the Democrats. Left unattended, it could become a formidable obstacle for them in next year's midterm elections. Moreover, the sour mood that has gripped the nation's politics could only further turn off the young.
Now, two people will have to choose. The fate of the health care bill is largely in the hands of Barack Obama and Olympia Snowe. The Finance Committee's vote on Tuesday to send its bill to the Senate floor vindicated President Obama's strategy of giving Congress wide latitude to write the early drafts. Major health reform has advanced further than it ever has before. But Obama must now abandon his preference for intervening forcefully only after House and Senate bills go to a conference committee.
It is a sign of our weird political moment that the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama will probably hurt him among some of his fellow citizens. His opponents are describing the award as premature. The deeper problem is that the Nobel will underscore the extent to which Obama is a cosmopolitan figure, much loved in European capitals because he is the change they have been looking for. Most Americans will probably be happy to have a leader who wins acclaim around the globe.
WASHINGTON -- So now we know: The economic stimulus plan passed by Congress at the beginning of the year was not big enough. We also know this: Once it secures a health care bill--yes, it will get one--the Obama administration from that moment to the 2010 midterm elections will be all about jobs, jobs, jobs. In the face of persistently high unemployment, the administration's economic advisers have been reviewing proposals to create jobs, and President Obama's aides insist they knew all along that the original stimulus, as one of them put it, would "never fill the full gap from the recession."
WASHINGTON--At a White House dinner with a group of historians at the beginning of the summer, Robert Dallek, a shrewd student of both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, offered a chilling comment to President Obama. "In my judgment," he recalls saying, "war kills off great reform movements." The American record is pretty clear: World War I brought the Progressive Era to a close. When Franklin D. Roosevelt was waging World War II, he was candid in saying that "Dr. New Deal" had given way to "Dr.
WASHINGTON--The strangest aspect of the debate over a public option for health coverage is that the centrists who oppose it should actually love it. It doesn't involve a government takeover of the health care system. The idea is that only consumers who wanted to enroll in a government-run health plan would do so. Anyone who preferred private insurance could get it. The public option also uses government exactly as advocates of market economics say it should be deployed: Not as a controlling entity but as a nudge toward greater competition. Fans of the market rightly oppose monopolies.
WASHINGTON -- Fall River, my hometown in Massachusetts, has been a bastion of devotion to the Kennedy family since John F. Kennedy's 1952 Senate race. We were so faithful that the turnout slogan in my dear city could well have been: "Vote for the Kennedy of your choice, but vote." It's like that in a lot of places around the state. A factory worker with no political credentials got elected state treasurer in 1954 just because his name happened to be John F. Kennedy.
WASHINGTON--If the uninsured can't count on the do-gooders to help them, where else can they turn? The question arises because certain leaders of the sector of our society devoted to civic endeavors moved this week to block a perfectly reasonable way of raising some money to extend health coverage to those who don't have it. At issue is a proposal by a number of senators, including Jay Rockefeller and John Kerry, to put a cap on tax deductions taken by the well-to-do.
WASHINGTON -- It's time to cast aside the political shorthand and ideological pigeonholing that distort our debates over health care in particular and government's role in American life more broadly. The way words such as "centrist" and "bipartisan" are now deployed turns the discussion away from useful arguments over how various proposals might work and toward arid talk about how ideas fit into prefabricated boxes. The impact of this warping of reality, brought home daily in the health care fight, was dramatized in last week's debate in the House of Representatives over a bill to expand fed