February 08, 2009

Uncle Sam, Drug Scold
12:00 AM

Editor's Note: We held onto this item for a bit as all hell broke loose with Senator Daschle and then with the stimulus bill. Substance abuse policy often takes a back seat to more visible matters, but we don't want this little story to get less than its due. Harold Pollack--for those of you who don't know yet--is a public health policy researcher at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration, where he is faculty chair of the Center for Health Administration Studies.

February 06, 2009

Why I'll Miss Bill Kristol's Column
12:00 AM

When word broke last week that William Kristol’s weekly New York Times op-ed column was ending its run, the reaction in left-blogospheric quarters was downright exultant. “An era of phoning in misrepresentation comes to an end,” announced Brad DeLong. “Like Bo crushing Bosworth, Bill Kristol has been exposed,” wrote Ta-Nehisi Coates. “He spent a year embarrassing the nation’s most prestigious news outlet, wasting space on the most valuable media real estate in the country,” concluded Steve Benen.

The Art of the Withdrawal
12:00 AM

I come to praise Nancy Killefer, not to bury her. Yes, it’s certainly ironic that the hotshot McKinsey consultant whom Barack Obama tapped to become our federal government’s first ever chief performance officer did such a bad job managing her own performance that she failed to pay employment taxes on her household help. Because of that, she made the right decision earlier this week to withdraw her nomination as Obama’s performance czar. But there was one performance in which Killefer did do a masterful job: the performance art of the withdrawal.

John Patrick Diggins (1935-2009)
12:00 AM

Since the founding of this journal nearly a century ago, its editors have tried to remain true to the vision of our nation’s founders: to be visionary without seeking utopia, to be progressive without succumbing to doctrine, to be pragmatic without eschewing a passion for ideals.

Measuring The Stimulus's Footprint
12:00 AM

Given that the country just lost 598,000 jobs in January, there are definitely bigger worries about the stimulus bill careering through Congress than how much pollution it will actually curb. Still, for anyone curious about the latter question, Greenpeace recently commissioned an analysis of the White House's original stimulus proposal by ICF International and found that the clean-energy, efficiency, and transit provisions would cut carbon emissions by roughly 61 million tons annually—equivalent to taking 13 million cars off the road.

Why It Won't Be Howard Dean; Why That's Too Bad
12:00 AM

Howard Dean is probably not going to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services.* As best as I can tell, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is not about to let Dean in the same zip code, let alone the same branch of government. That is the political reality. Still, writers should do more than reflect the political reality. They should try to change it--or, at least, explain why it's flawed. With that in mind, here are two very key assets that Dean would bring to the job--the job, I know, he'll never have. The first is management ability.

February 05, 2009

12:00 AM

WASHINGTON--The irony of President Barack Obama's Blue Tuesday is that the wall-to-wall television interviews he granted were designed not to apologize for Tom Daschle's fall from grace but to fight back against the Republicans' success in tarnishing his stimulus package.Obama's network appearances were planned as a response to a wholly unanticipated development: Republicans--short on new ideas, low on votes, and deeply unpopular in the polls--have been winning the media wars over the president's central initiative.They have done so largely by focusing on minor bits of the stimulus that amount

Crazy Like A Fox
12:00 AM

“New York is fantastic,” a pumped-up Rod Blagojevich said after strolling his way back to the luxurious Jumeirah Essex House on Central Park South just before 11 p.m. on Tuesday, hours after appearing on David Letterman. "Walking down the street here in Manhattan, cab drivers are honking, guys in cars are shouting support, ‘Keep it up! Keep fighting!’”You have to hand to it Rod Blagojevich. For someone who’s supposedly the most cuckoo and crooked man in politics, he’s assembled quite a fan club. “I must say the guy is growing on me,” said Dennis Miller on Fox News.

What's The Gop's Optimal Stimulus Strategy?
12:00 AM

Jon Chait and I were debating this at our editorial meeting this morning. Jon says the GOP's dream is to derail the stimulus plan, which would devastate the economy and destroy Obama's presidency. I say that'd be pretty self-defeating. Everyone knows Obama inherited an economic mess, and that Obama and the Democrats badly want to pass a stimulus. If the stimulus dies, the GOP will almost certainly get blamed.

The Emerging Republican Majority
12:00 AM

Let me offer my two-bits in the debate between Noam Scheiber and Jon Chait over what the Republicans are trying to accomplish by holding up Obama’s stimulus bill and what could happen if they are successful in significantly diluting it. I don’t have an answer to question number one, except that I imagine that Republican Senators are acting from a variety of motives--from the narrowly partisan (compare the House Republicans this year or the Senate Republicans in 1993) to the foolishly ideological.