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.
When Richard Gephardt unveiled his plan for near-universal health coverage in April, one of the sharpest rebukes came from fellow Democratic presidential candidate Bob Graham. "The problem I have with Congressman Gephardt's proposal is we tried that before," Graham said during an appearance on ABC's "This Week." "That is what President Clinton and Mrs. Clinton tried to do in 1993 and 1994.
SOUTHFIELD, MICHIGAN Just hours before the first bombs fell on Baghdad, the conversation taking place at a suburban Detroit restaurant was laced with ambivalence about the looming conflict. "[Saddam Hussein] is evil," said Dave Nona, an engineer and land developer. "He has caused a lot of hardship and misery to a good country and a good group of people. But that country has suffered a lot, especially in the last twelve years. ...
Given the White House's reputation for political savvy and tight spin control, its very public stumbling over Medicare has been fascinating to watch.
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE Right after New Year's Day, just over a week after his colleagues elected him Senate majority leader, Bill Frist again popped up in the news, not for any political deed but for trying to save the lives of those injured in a gruesome Florida car crash. It sounded too good to be true--except to anyone who knows Frist here in Nashville. The thing that first strikes you when you start talking to friends and former colleagues of the surgeon-turned-senator is that everyone has a different story about his penchant for small acts of kindness.
You didn't have to be a fortune-teller to see that the October meeting of the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention was going to be more controversial than usual. The panel, which advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), had been gearing up for a few months to consider whether the federal standard for lead poisoning, set in 1991, should be even tougher.
LOS ANGELES The women's clinic at the Hubert Humphrey Health Center may not be posh, but it's not unpleasant, either. The exam rooms are clean and reasonably well- equipped; a few even feature their own computer consoles. Attractive pink wallpaper lines the walls, except in the children's waiting area, which beckons youngsters with primary colors and a colorful bead and wire maze. Patients sit quietly as a receptionist calls out names, one every few minutes, without resorting to a loudspeaker.
FLINT, MICHIGAN It's nearly 5 o'clock on a Friday afternoon, and inside a cavernous auditorium at Mott Community College the air is thick with testosterone. Stout men in work boots and jeans file in, many of them fresh off the assembly line at the nearby General Motors truck plant, swelling the crowd to around 300 people. This is the heart of automobile country: Baseball hats advertise the GM product line, while T-shirts promote two loyalties--nation ("LET FREEDOM RING") and union ("FRIENDS DON'T LET FRIENDS CROSS PICKET LINES").
Uh oh. I am standing in the doorway of a hotel banquet hall, searching the room for Howard Dean, the governor of Vermont and Democratic presidential hopeful. He's here to attend a local Greek Independence Day celebration--to give a few remarks, to march in a parade, and, perhaps, to make some political contacts that might help in the 2004 New Hampshire primary. It's an informal gathering, and when I called Dean's press secretary a few days ago, she suggested I just show up as the luncheon was winding down and pull him aside to chat.
The last time anyone in American politics spoke seriously of a health care "crisis" was during the recession of the early 1990s. At the time, unemployment was rising just as high medical costs were driving insurance premiums to unprecedented levels. As a result, millions of people lost their coverage and millions more worried they might be next.Newspapers captured the situation: Hard Times Leave More Uninsured" (The Hartford Courant); "Possibility of Losing Coverage Worries Caregivers, Parents" (Houston Chronicle); "Need Health Insurance? Good Luck" (USA Today).