Schwarzenegger's Health-care Rhetoric
January 08, 2007

I'll be writing more about California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposal for universal health care, which he's unveiling as I type this and which--based on what I've been told by some of his advisors--is quite ambitious. In the meantime, though, I wanted to take note of the savvy rhetorical ploy Schwarzenegger is using. In his opening remarks, as in his publicity material, he's referring to the "hidden tax" all Californians pay. This tax is the money the state spends to take care of the uninsured in emergency rooms and at other safety net institutions.

Tax Returns
January 08, 2007

Quoth Fred Barnes, in the latest Weekly Standard: Democrats believe raising taxes on the well-to-do to pay for, say, expanded health care benefits for children is a political winner. It might be. But when Bush adviser Karl Rove spoke to Grover Norquist's weekly gathering of conservatives last week in Washington, he offered to bet anyone in the room $5 that the president would finish his two terms without having signed a single tax hike. Rove had only one taker. Okay, so maybe Bush will veto any Democratic tax bills. And maybe the votes won't be there to override him.

The Dynamic Duo
January 08, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen, the photo you've all been waiting for.... No, it doesn't really tell us anything new about Jack Abramoff. It's just fascinating that this photo has always existed--yet took so long to emerge. And as Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which obtained the photo,puts it: What else might the White House still be hiding? --Michael Crowley

Do Conservatives Know The Meaning Of "multilateralism"?
January 07, 2007

I'm a little confused by Rich Lowry's critique of this Time column by my colleague Peter Beinart. Over at the Corner, Lowry writes: I thought a few months ago I read and reviewed a book by Peter Beinart complaining that the Bush administration is too unilateralist and too committed to trying to solve international problems alone. Now, in this Time essay, Beinart complains that the Bush administration is deferring too much to allies! I'm sure Beinart has some way to try to square this circle, but the principle here looks an awful lot like whatever the Bush administration does is wrong.

You're Out, Harriet
January 05, 2007

Anyway, to get back to politics, yesterday Harriet Miers submitted her resignation as White House counsel. The official line is that the president was reluctant to let her go and that she left, as Tony Snow put it, because: "She's been here for six years. It's hard duty." That's probably true.

Better Hack White House Writers Needed
January 03, 2007

President Bush's op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal is filled with unremarkable pabulum. But one passage jumped out at me: "It is a fact that economies do best when you reward hard work by allowing people to keep more of what they have earned. ... It is also a fact that our tax cuts have fueled robust economic growth and record revenues." These are not facts, they are opinions.

The M-word
January 03, 2007

Utah's Deseret Morning News reports that Mitt Romney is preparing a major speech explaining his Mormonism, as Damon Linker predicted in the latest TNR that he likely would. Linker's cover story on Romney and his religion, meanwhile, has been drawing some fire. Here's a discussion of it by Chris Matthews and David Gergen on last night's "Hardball": MATTHEWS: On another front in the Republican Party, Mitt Romney is about to announce an exploratory committee tomorrow.

Lost And Found
January 02, 2007

Ben Smith is a fine reporter and I heartily congratulate him on his boffo scoop: a "lost" copy of Rudy Giuliani's potential 2008 White House game plan. The particulars are interesting--but given that this black book is a whopping 140 pages, it actually sounds like somewhat of a letdown: Did we really need a secret binder to tell us, for instance, that Rudy's camp is worried about his reputation with social conservatives? And no mention of any new skeletons his operatives might be trying to hide? This reminds me of an episode from when I was a TNR intern in the early Clinton years.

The Cheapening Of Tony Blair
December 27, 2006

I like Tony Blair. I like his domestic policies for Britain, and I like his foreign policy, certainly better than I do Jacques Chirac's or Vladimir Putin's. But there is also something about him that gives me the willies. It's not that he looks like Hugh Grant, although he sort of does. But Blair certainly can't dance like Grant, who played him in "Love Actually". What actually gives me the creeps is that Blair reminds me more and more of Bill Clinton. And this has nothing to do with looks. It has to do with character.

Life Imitating The Onion, Part Xxxiv
December 27, 2006

Or at least journalism imitating The Onion... The authors of the WaPo's Gerald Ford obituary provide us with some unintentional comedy: It was widely assumed that Ford had doomed his political career. By January 1975, his approval rating had plummeted to 36 percent. Not even two assassination attempts, both in California in 1975, generated significant popular support [emphasis added]. The line brought to mind The Onion's 2001 masterpiece, Clinton Vaguely Disappointed By Lack of Assassination Attempts.