E.J. Dionne Jr.
Testing the President's Reach
September 17, 2009
McLEAN, Va.--Will the bitter, smoldering feelings let loose by Washington's health care fight ricochet across the Potomac River and decide Virginia's race for governor? Will a Republican be able to escape his right-wing record and his incendiary past writings to rebrand himself as a pragmatist? The battle for the Virginia statehouse always gets outsized national attention because of its unusual timing, just a year after a presidential election.
Man in the Mirror
September 14, 2009
WASHINGTON -- If you saw a woman struck by a car, would you call an ambulance right away? Or would you first ask for her papers to make sure she was not an illegal immigrant? If someone living down the street from you were suffering from the H1N1 flu, wouldn't you want him to get immediate medical help? Would you rather see him in pain and perhaps spread the disease to others in your neighborhood? Rep. Joe Wilson deserves all the condemnation he's received for his boorish behavior during President Obama's address on health care. No Democrat ever shouted "You lie!" during a George W.
Obama's Health Care Reset
September 09, 2009
WASHINGTON -- After a listless summer during which his opponents dominated the health care debate, President Obama used a dramatic appearance before Congress on Wednesday to seize control of the autumn, the season of decision for the initiative he has turned into the central test of his presidency. Having avoided specifics in order to give the House and Senate room to legislate, he piled on the details, openly battling the "blizzard of charges and countercharges," out of which, he said, "confusion has reigned." It was a speech designed to clear the air by sweeping aside misconceptions, reassu
September 07, 2009
WASHINGTON -- President Obama's health care speech on Wednesday will be only the second most consequential political moment of the week. Judged by the standard of an event's potential long-term impact on our public life, the most important will be the argument before the Supreme Court (on the same day, as it happens) about a case that, if decided wrongly, could surrender control of our democracy to corporate interests. This sounds melodramatic. It's not.
September 03, 2009
WASHINGTON -- Health care reform is said to be in trouble partly because of those raucous August town hall meetings in which Democratic members of Congress were besieged by shouters opposed to change. But what if our media-created impression of the meetings is wrong? What if the highly publicized screamers represented only a fraction of public opinion?
From a Position of Strength
August 31, 2009
WASHINGTON--President Obama can still secure major health care legislation this year if he learns from his mistakes in recent months and spends more time reminding Americans why they were once eager for fundamental change. His White House lost sight of the need to make a strong case that reform would deliver specific benefits to the insured as well as the uninsured.
August 26, 2009
WASHINGTON--Ted Kennedy was treasured by liberals, loved by many of his conservative colleagues, revered by African-Americans and Latinos, respected by hard-bitten political bosses, admired by students of the legislative process, and cherished by those who constituted the finest cadre of staff members ever assembled on Capitol Hill. The Kennedy paradox is that he managed to be esteemed by almost everyone without ever becoming all things to all people. He stood for large purposes, unequivocally and unapologetically, and never ducked tough choices.
August 24, 2009
SYDNEY, Australia--The hardest slogan to sell in politics is: "Things could have been a whole lot worse." No wonder President Obama is having trouble defending his stimulus plan. If governments around the world, including our own, had not acted aggressively--and had not spent piles of money--a very bad economic situation would have become a cataclysm. But because the cataclysm was avoided, this is an invisible achievement. Many whose bacon was saved, particularly in the banking and corporate sectors, do not want to admit how important the actions of government were.
The Politics of the Jackboot
August 20, 2009
WASHINGTON -- Try a thought experiment: What would conservatives have said if a group of loud, scruffy leftists had brought guns to the public events of Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush? How would our friends on the right have reacted to someone at a Reagan or a Bush speech carrying a sign that read: "It's time to water he tree of liberty"?
It's Not 2003
July 20, 2009
WASHINGTON -- It was not the soaring rhetoric that is Barack Obama's signature, but he recently offered the sound bite that may define his presidency: "Don't bet against us." There are reasons to believe that his confident words--they were about health care reform, but have broader application--were not the bombast of a bluffer exaggerating the strength of his hand.