advisors

With apologies to Winston Churchill, President Obama may not have presided over the beginning of the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict last week in New York, but he seems finally to have marked the end of an embarrassing beginning to his Middle East diplomacy. The president and his senior advisors came to office nine months ago eager to say and do what George W. Bush didn’t.

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Hindsight

The pundits are busy filing their reports on how President Obama blew it on health care reform. And while the health care fight is far from over--I remain convinced the Democrats will pass a bill, maybe even a good one--the pundits have a point. Obama surely has made mistakes, among them focusing so heavily on how reform would reduce the cost of medicine.

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Harold Pollack is a professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and Special Correspondent for The Treatment. Given the boorishness and insanity unfolding at town halls across the country, yesterday's Montana event was a pleasant surprise. President Obama presented his vision as simply and as well as anyone can: First, health insurance reform will mean a set of common-sense consumer protections for folks with health insurance. Insurance companies will no longer be able to cancel your coverage because you get sick. ... Think about this.

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Harold Pollack is a professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and Special Correspondent for The Treatment.     Greg Mankiw writes that the gas tax is not an issue that divides liberals and conservatives, but rather one that divides political consultants and policy wonks.

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While Cass Sunstein is right to caution against groupthink in the President's inner circle, I'd warn against holding up the Reagan administration as an ideal alternative.

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Jamie, below, derides my citation of a New York Times story about spats between John McCain's foreign policy advisors. His objection seems to be that the story lacks on-the-record quotes. Well, sure. The story would be better with quotes like that, but quotes like that are near-impossible to get. Campaign advisors are the most skittish people in the world about saying anything. As a general rule they're reluctant to be quoted describing what the candidate ate for lunch, let alone describing his intellectual limits.

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Yesterday, Jon wrote a post entitled, "McCain's Advisors Think He's a Lightweight." As evidence, he cited yesterday's New York Times story on McCain's foreign policy team, allegedly at war with itself with neocons and realists taking to the ramparts (guess which side the Times takes).

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