September 29, 2008

12:00 AM

It is a politician’s rite of passage--at least if he expects to win Florida. Each summer, the presidential candidates take turns speaking to the Council of Jewish Elders (really just a sufficiently telegenic synagogue, preferably in a swing district like Tampa), competing with each other to see just who can claim to love Israel the mostest. The media covers the events with great ardor, usually suggesting that Jewish voters are the key to the entire state--and perhaps the entire election.

Reversal of Fortune
12:00 AM

WASHINGTON -- September began as John McCain's month and ended as Barack Obama's. McCain's high-risk wagers aimed at shaking up the campaign turned into very bad investments. And Friday's debate eliminated McCain's best chance to deliver a knockout blow to an opponent whose most important asset may be his capacity for self-correction. McCain is supposed to own the foreign policy issue--and he should have owned Friday's debate.

Healthy Choice
12:00 AM

To many Democrats, it has long seemed self-evident that Barack Obama, if elected president, should promptly seek enactment of one big bill to achieve universal health insurance coverage and reform the U.S. health care system. Senator Edward Kennedy is currently working with Senate colleagues to draft just such a bill. The appeal of this position is strong. Covering all Americans has been a goal of the Democratic Party for at least seventy years. Fifty million people remain uninsured. The quality of care in the U.S. is spotty, despite costs vastly greater than those of any other nation.

Palin Draws A Blank
12:00 AM

Or: The Sound of Silence. Jonathan Martin: Of concern to McCain's campaign, however, is a remaining and still-undisclosed clip from Palin's interview with Couric last week that has the political world buzzing. The Palin aide, after first noting how "infuriating" it was for CBS to purportedly leak word about the gaffe, revealed that it came in response to a question about Supreme Court decisions. After noting Roe vs. Wade, Palin was apparently unable to discuss any major court cases.

Celebrating The Bailout Bill's Failure--and Looking Ahead

David Cay Johnston, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his innovative coverage of our tax system, retired this year as a investigative reporter for The New York Times.

Mccain's Loss
12:00 AM

Good thing that John McCain suspended his campaign and rushed back to Washington with a flourish so he could round up Republican votes and pass the bailout.  Who knows what might have happened had he not interceded on the bill's behalf and put his own credibility on the line for it.  The markets would have tanked, our allies would have lost confidence in us, and...oh, never mind. Last week Senator McCain looked goofy by coming off the campaign trail and interposing himself into the legislative process over the bailout.  Today he looks like a loser -- his credibility and prestige diminished by

Where's The Unitary Executive When You Need Him?
12:00 AM

After eight years of secrecy, rendition, torture, etc., surely there's some legal document floating around the White House somewhere that would let Bush snap his fingers and save the economy. Can't Bush declare this part of the war on terror and claim the post-9/11 resolution justifies executive action? [Comically enough, even as I was writing the above paragraph an MSNBC reporter said the White House was talking about executive orders it might issue (although none would come close to the scope of the Congressional bill).] --Michael Crowley

'times' Managing Editor Admits Paper's W.m.d. Mistakes--in A Book Review?
12:00 AM

On the cover of this Sunday's New York Times Book Review, Times managing editor Jill Abramson wrote a 3,400-word piece assessing Bob Woodward's bestseller The War Within. Her review offers a broad, largely positive survey of the previous three installments in Woodward's Bush series, writing that "his books offer a definitive portrait" of the president "in real time." A little more than halfway through the piece, Abramson trains her critic's eye back on herself and reflects on the Times's controversial pre-war coverage of Saddam Hussein's W.M.D program.

Farewell To The Drilling Moratorium
12:00 AM

While the bailout is (rightfully) getting all the coverage, Kate Sheppard reports that, lest anyone forget, the moratoriums (moratoria?) on offshore and oil-shale drilling are officially set to expire at midnight tomorrow. Congress just approved an interim spending bill that will get the federal government through the year and won't contain any limits on oil production—essentially, Dems let the ban expire and got nothing in return. Well played as always. Now, this doesn't mean we'll actually see new drilling anytime soon.

September 27, 2008

The Bailout: What Are Our Options, And Why Haven't We Explored Them?
12:00 AM

David Cay Johnston, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his innovative coverage of our tax system, retired this year as a investigative reporter for The New York Times. He is the author of Free Lunch: How The Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expenses (and Stick You with the Bill). Maybe there is a cheaper way out of the credit mess than the plan put forth by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the former chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs.