Jonathan Cohn
Senior Editor

More People Have Health Insurance. Thank Uncle Sam.
August 26, 2008

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.

The Urgency Of Ted Kennedy's Message
August 26, 2008

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.

Playing Nice Is Ok--for Tonight
August 26, 2008

MSNBC's panel seems convinced, as I guess some of my colleagues are, that tonight was a missed opportunity: Democrats could have attacked McCain and didn't. I understand that reaction. I've been agitating for the Obama campaign to get tougher, too. But tonight's strategy seems sensible enough. The campaign had to introduce America to Michelle Obama and make swing voters--that is, older working- and middle-class white voters--were comfortable with her and the Obamas generally.

Looking Up At Michelle Obama. Literally.
August 25, 2008

Michelle Obama's brother, Craig Robinson, is on stage to introduce her. Seeing him reminds me of his background in basketball--as a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year and, later, a successful collegiate coach. As you might expect, he is a tall man--which, of course, reminds me that Michelle is tall, too. All of which prompts the following, deeply analytical question: I know height is good in a presidential candidate, but is it good in a potential First Lady? Feel free to ponder that fluff while I write something meaningful on Ted Kennedy and health care. P.S.

The Strange Silence On Biden's Signature Accomplishment
August 25, 2008

  If you’ve been reading the liberal blogosphere over the last two days, you’ve probably detected some ambivalence about Barack Obama’s decision to make Joe Biden his running mate. Although everybody realizes that Biden is a loyal, decent Democrat who brings energy and experience to the ticket, there’s also a palpable sense of disappointment. Biden supported the Iraq War and, more recently, the anti-consumer bankruptcy bill. He’s been in Washington forever. And so on.

More On The Clinton Controversy (sigh)
August 24, 2008

John McCain's new television ad suggests that Barack Obama didn't pick Hillary Clinton as his running mate because he couldn't handle her criticisms--i.e., "the turth hurt and he couldn't handle it." It's a dubious assertion, but the merits of the argument are, for all practical purposes, besides the point. This ad is designed to stoke the resentment of wavering Clinton voters and to make sure the Clinton controversy remains part of the convention storyline. I'll leave it to others to determine whether this gambit will work.

Why--and How--obama Picked Biden
August 24, 2008

Today's New York Times has some of the backstory on the vice presidential selection process and why Barack Obama ultimately settled on Joe Biden. The overarching narrative is more or less what it appeared to be. According to the article, which is by Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg, Obama was initially wary of Biden. But research by his vetting team and conversations with some of Biden's longtime Senate colleagues, including Congressman Rahm Emanuel, Senator Ted Kennedy, and Governor Ed Rendell, convinced Obama that Biden was a "worker"--and somebody whom Obama could trust.

That's the Ticket!
August 23, 2008

It’s a great pick! He connects with blue-collar voters and reassures voters worried about Barack Obama’s foreign policy inexperience. It’s a lousy pick! He’s prone to gaffes and, as a senior member of the Senate, steps on the message of change.In the next few days, pundits will be obsessing over the political impact of putting Joe Biden on the Democratic ticket. But the more important questions are the more tangible ones. Is Biden qualified to serve as an advisor to the president and, in an emergency, his stand-in?

Obama Introduces 'that Scrappy Kid From Scranton'
August 23, 2008

Barack Obama is speaking in Springfield as I write this. And I think it's a pretty revealing window into the political logic* behind the selection. Obama has touted Biden's ability to get past foreign policy that's about "bluster and bad judgment." But the heavy, heavy focus is on Biden's personal story--a story of working-class roots, then overcoming the tragic death of his wife and daughter--and Biden's ability to aritculate the economic anxiety average Americans are feeling.

Biden Makes It Harder To Run Against Washington. Good.
August 23, 2008

One obvious hazard of picking a veteran like Joe Biden is that it complicates Barack Obama's promise to "change the culture of Washington." The campaign, of course, has thought of that, too.

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