Jonathan Cohn

Senior Editor

My friend Harold Pollack, who is a professor at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration, spent some of his personal time organizing for Barack Obama over the weekend. He writes this short dispatch: I spent today canvassing in Schererville, Indiana, with my 11-year-old. We were trolling neighborhood garage sales talking with people as we went door to door.

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I assume Hillary Clinton wouldn't be pounding the gax tax issue if she (and her advisers) didn't feel it helped them politically. And they may well be right. Even if voters realize that it won't make much difference, it reinforces the class polarization of the primary campaign.

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John McCain's new health care advertisements states--not once but twice--that the problem with American health care isn't the quality. The problem, he says, its its high cost--and how that high cost frequently makes it inaccessible. You can see the ad here, via Marc Ambinder. He'll get no argument from me on the second part: Cost and access are indeed huge problems. If only he dealt with them adequately! (For more on this, see Ezra.) But quality is a huge problem, too.

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A few months ago, when John McCain decided to address the public’s anxiety about unaffordable medical care, he gave the sort of speech we’ve grown accustomed to hearing from Republicans over the years.  Let’s encourage people to drop their employer insurance and shop for coverage on their own, he said, since that will create a vibrant market in which people can find better bargains.

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Everybody knows that poilticians like to fudge budget numbers. Specifcially, they use optimistic projections and intellectual sleight of hands to make their initiatives look better. Whether it's tax cuts or new spending programs, they offer all kinds of benefits and yet, magically, manage not to cost that much money. Still, some politicians are more honest than others. A lot more. To take one easy example, Bill Clinton and his advisers may have over-estimated the savings the administration's ill-fated health care plan might have yielded.

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Everybody who follows health care policy is talking about an article in the latest edition of The Hill: "Dems Hedge on Health Care." The article, written by Manu Raju, has on-the-record quotes from two Democratic Senators--Max Baucus and Jay Rockefeller--seriously lowering expectations for what Congress might be able to accomplish next year, no matter who is in the White House come January 2009.  For the last year, momentum for universal health care has been buildilng.

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Hillary Clinton's candidacy lives to see another day. And, I'm guessing, Barack Obama's supporters are depressed. They think Obama is all but certain to win the nomination anyway. The longer this campaign continues, they figure, the more damaged for the fall election he will be. I agree that Obama will probably be the nominee. But I'm less convinced this long race will damage his November prospects. Why the dash of optimism?

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Terry McAuliffe was just on MSNBC declaring victory, arguing that tonight's performance proves Hillary Clinton can win in the big states. He also said Clinton would speak soon--within the next half hour. I assume that's an effort to spin this early as a win, lest the late numbers show a closer margin. Message: Clinton isn't dropping out anytime soon. --Jonathan Cohn 

Like Jason, I was not happy to learn that Barack Obama, like John McCain, had given credence to the supposed link between autism and vaccines. Well, it turns out that opinion is unanimous among the presidential candidates. Here is how Hillary Clinton's campaign answered a questionnaire from the group A_Champ: Q: Do you think vaccines should be investigated as a possible cause of autism?  A: I am committed to make investments to find the causes of autism, including possible environmental causes like vaccines.

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When I heard Hillary Clinton was going on Keith Olbermann, I figured she was in for pretty rough--and possibly unfair--treatment. Olbermann, after all, has been a pretty vocal Clinton critic. And on a few occasions, I've thought, he's taken it too far. Not tonight. His first question was...a very serious question about policy: What can the president really do to bring down gas prices? Clinton seemed slow to respond. (Maybe she was as surprised by the question as I was?) But she followed up with a long, nuanced answer.

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