Jonathan Cohn

Senior Editor

Four years ago in Boston, I watched Barack Obama deliver perhaps the most perfect speech I’ll ever see. It was full of soaring imagery and lyrical prose. If offered up a searing, passionate indictment of modern politics. And it was delivered with an eloquence no politician in my lifetime had shown before.Tonight, on television, I watched Barack Obama give a rather different piece of oratory. Although delivered with equal skill, its content struck me as more unwieldy and, at times, more pedestrian.

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Is the emergency room an adequate substitute for health insurance, as an expert who has advised the McCain campaign recently suggested? Not according to the American College of Emergency Physicians. Here's the statement they just issued: Washington, D.C.

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The saga of John McCain and his official views on health care just keeps getting more interesting.As you may recall, the Dallas Morning News recently quoted John Goodman suggesting that the problems of the uninsured were wildly exaggerated--since, among other things, everybody can always get into an emergency room.Goodman runs a conservative policy think-tank and has been making these sorts of arguments for a long time. But it was newsworthy since, according to the Morning News story, he was also an adviser to the McCain campaign.

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John Goodman* runs the National Center for Policy Analysis, a conservative think-tank based in Dallas, Texas. So when Dallas Morning News reporter Jason Roberson was reporitng his story on the latest figures on America's uninsured, he decided to dial up Goodman and get a quick reaction. Here's what Roberson reported: ...the numbers are misleading, said John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a right-leaning Dallas-based think tank. Mr. Goodman, who helped craft Sen.

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Bill Clinton, speaking moments ago: Everything I learned in my eight years as President and in the work I’ve done since, in America and across the globe, has convinced me that Barack Obama is the man for this job. (Emphasis his.) ... Barack Obama is ready to lead America and restore American leadership in the world. Ready to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. Barack Obama is ready to be President of the United States.  --Jonathan Cohn 

Hillary--yes She Can

Hillary Clinton is not a great orator. She speaks with mechanical precision, clear and direct and but usually bereft of emotion. She varies her volume, never her pace or her tone. She can deliver a exquisitely detailed disquisition on virtually any topic of import. But she can’t deliver a rousing pep talk or sermon, any more than she can just chat. But sometimes a great speech doesn’t require great speaking. All it requires are the right words, delivered by the right person in the right setting. And that's what the Democratic convention got from Clinton tonight.

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We'll all have more to say about Clinton's speech in the next few hours, but one quick note. It's about the closing line, which I took down as "That is our mission Democrats. Let us elect Barack Obama and Joe Biden." That was not in the prepared text. And while I don't know whether she ad-libbed it, I wouldn't be surprised if she did. Whether or not the endorsement of Obama was heartfelt, it certainly seemed heartfelt. The marching orders to her supporters could not be more clear.

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Something remarkable just happened on MSNBC. Chris Matthews spent at least two minutes, maybe three, musing over the substantive argument in a convention speech. It happened right after former Virginia Governor Mark Warner finished his keynote address. Matthews seized on Warner's line about the importance of asking Americans to make sacrifices--and Bush's failure to make that request after 9/11.

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The Census Bureau just released the latest figures on income, poverty, and health insurance enrollment. And my very hasty take--based on a quick reading of the data and highlights, plus e-mail exchanges with some experts--is that overall the news is, for a change, good: The percentage of people without coverage actually declined in the last year, according to the figures, from 15.8 percent of the population to 15.3 of the population.  But before anybody gets the idea that we no longer need health care reform, take a closer look at the numbers.

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All through the summer, members of Ted Kennedy’s committee staff in Washington have been feverishly preparing for an all-out effort to enact universal health care next year. They’ve been meeting with counterparts on other committees and bringing in the key stakeholders--unions, insurers, employers, doctors--to get a sense where everybody stands. They’ve also been looking closely at how Massachusetts lawmakers passed health care reform for their state, on the theory that a similar strategy might work in the U.S. Congress. And, of course, they’ve been keeping their boss in the loop.

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