At first glance, the White House archives suggest nothing unusual about President Bush's activity on January 16, 2003. Appearing before a university audience in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Bush touted his proposal for curbing medical malpractice lawsuits by limiting jury awards. It was a familiar conservative cause he had championed many times before, and he hit the usual notes in his speech: that "there are too many lawsuits filed against doctors and hospitals without merit" and that the malpractice system is "one of the main reasons" for rising health care costs.
The footage is not easy to watch: In one clip, a prisoner screams as an attack dog mauls his leg; in another, a prisoner with a broken ankle gets zapped in the buttocks with a stun gun because he's not crawling along the floor quickly enough. These aren't the infamous video from Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. They were taken in 1996, at the Brazoria County Detention Center outside of Houston. "Welcome to Texas," one guard announces as he literally drags a prisoner across the floor. "Enjoy the ride.
"Today is the day of celebration! Today is the day of victory! Today is a day of brightness in Iraq!" Just four months ago, Imam Husham Al Husainy stood outside the Karbalaa Islamic Education Center in Dearborn, Michigan, shouting these words upon hearing that coalition forces had captured Saddam Hussein.
Even before Super Tuesday delivered a fatal blow to Senator John Edwards's presidential campaign, everybody from Tim Russert to Jesse Jackson was buzzing about the possibility that Edwards might become Senator John Kerry's running mate, giving the Democrats a "dream ticket" for 2004. And, while a lot of this was the usual Washington chatter, the idea of a Kerry- Edwards pairing has clearly taken root beyond the Beltway. In the New Hampshire primary, scores of voters who backed Kerry reportedly wrote in Edwards as a vice-presidential choice.
Everybody knew Howard Dean's proposal to repeal the Bush tax cuts would prove controversial in the general election. But during the Democratic nomination fight, too? Over the last few weeks, rivals have attacked Dean for saying that, as president, he would rescind even those parts of the Bush tax cut that are not directed at the very rich. "Some in my party want to balance the budget on the backs of the middle class," John Kerry declared recently, in a typical broadside.
When I first interviewed Howard Dean in early 2002, the Iraq war was still a glint in Dick Cheney's eye, nobody had heard of Meetup.com, and Dean's campaign organization numbered all of one. Beyond Vermont, he was virtually unknown: As we walked through downtown Boston, not a soul recognized him. He was also a more simple character then--just another earnest public servant embarking on a long-shot bid for the White House. Dean had been charming: blunt, as always, but in a disarming, comical way. Eventually I wrote a piece touting his strong record and provocative critique of President Bush.
Perhaps the most hopeful sign about the Medicare reform law President Bush signed this week is the fact that it has so many Republicans in a tizzy. "I didn't come here to create the largest expansion of Medicare in history," protests Arizona Representative Jeff Flake. "If we veer off the path of thelimited government of Ronald Reagan, it will be at our peril," warns Indiana Representative Mike Pence. But conservative critics give Bush and his allies far too little credit.
If a pregnant woman wears red underwear with a safety pin tucked into it, will it make her newborn child healthier? No self-respecting physician would say so. But the possibility may be worth considering, thanks to a phenomenon scientists call the "Latino health paradox."As you might suspect, people who don't have regular access to medical care tend to end up sicker than people who do, since it's through regular checkups that you're most likely to catch things like cancer or heart disease before they kill you.
When the history of this presidential campaign is written, one of the best chapters will be about how Howard Dean beat Tim Russert. It was roughly a month ago that Dean appeared as Russert's guest on NBC's "Meet the Press," and, by the time Dean was through absorbing Russert's jabs, he looked decidedly less than presidential. When asked about the balanced-budget amendment and the bipartisan proposal for Medicare drug coverage, Dean seemed to waffle. When asked to name the number of troops serving in the active military, Dean could muster only a vague guess.
Although President Bush has pledged $15 billion to fight global AIDS over the next ten years--an impressively generous sum, assuming his tax cuts don't swallow up the money before it's spent--he clings to a very specific idea about how AIDS-prevention money should be spent: on teaching abstinence. That's why he and his supporters constantly talk up the success of Uganda. Ten years ago, 15 percent of the country's population had AIDS. Today, just 5 percent do. And a major reason for the drop is an AIDS program that conforms to White House notions of propriety.