The uproar among conservatives yesterday over alarmingly pro-health care statements by Mitt Romney and his chief spokeswoman was not the only split that emerged on the right. There was also quite a stir among conservative foreign policy mavens over the announcement that Bob Zoellick, recently retired from leading the World Bank, would be overseeing the transition for national security should Romney win in November. This set off giant alarm bells within the neo-conservative camp, which regards Zoellick as a weak-kneed "realist," not least for his conciliatory stance toward China.
When the president and his closest advisers huddled in the Oval Office last August, they had every reason to panic. Their signature piece of legislation, comprehensive health care reform, was mired in the Senate Finance Committee and the public was souring on it. Unemployment was on the march, and all this talk about preexisting conditions and insurance exchanges barely registered above the Fox News pundits screaming, “Death panel!” Suddenly, health care reform was under attack everywhere—even in the West Wing. All week, the group had debated whether to scale back the reform effort.
I have assumed that the real purpose of today’s health care summit was to rally public support for comprehensive health care reform – the kind of reform sketched out in the president’s own proposal this week – and that by rallying the public, the administration hoped to allay the fears of wavering Senators and House members that they would suffer retribution in the fall if they voted for the bill. It was part of what I’d like to call the White House’s “outside” game. But I wonder whether the White House really gets it. Yesterday, on the eve of the summit, when Henry Waxman’s House committee
The excerpts that Bloomberg published Wednesday from its interview with Barack Obama provoked some indignation from Simon Johnson, Paul Krugman, and others, but the full interview, published yesterday morning by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, deserves a few additional howls.