May 13, 2009
Gates And Obama
Smart take on the relationship from a reader who handles these issues: The way I see it, Obama has given Gates a free hand to pursue a defense budgeting strategy that Gates has long wanted, but rarely discussed by Senator Obama or Presidential Candidate Obama. Gates has been permitted to do this even though the Administration is getting major heat from Congressional barons on cuts to favored weapons programs. Also, Obama is giving Gates a free hand on war strategy, as evidenced by the McKiernan firing. So, if I were Gates, I would be pretty happy.
Rush Limbaugh's Kidneys
One of the reasons I find Kathleen Parker's columns enjoyable is that, in an op-ed sea dominated by seriously elite and/or ultra-intellectual types, she writes like a normal person. Today's offering, for instance, takes a nice and easy poke at hard-core literalists--a hypersensitive, eternally-looking-for-offense breed that I myself find about as much fun as, though far less useful than, a good colonscopy. Specifically, Parker expresses exasperation at all the hyperventilating over Wanda Sykes' below-the-belt jabs at Rush Limbaugh at the White House Correspondents' Dinner last Saturday.
May 12, 2009
As Barack Obama tries to avoid the mistakes Bill Clinton made on gays in the military, the new president's hesitation is already causing damage: Last week came news that yet another Arabic language specialist is about to be dismissed for homosexuality, the first under the new White House. What's more, advocates of repeal are now facing political blow-back: Recently, over 1,000 retired officers released a letter claiming that ending the ban could "break" the armed forces.
Between Alvin Ailey and tonight's first-ever White House poetry jam, the Obamas seem to be keeping their promise to fill the "people's house" with culture. But what artists have previous presidents privileged? From JFK and Pablo Casals to Reagan and the Beach Boys, click through today's TNR slideshow for the White House's iconic cultural moments. -- Elizabeth Sher Photo courtesy of Getty Images
The Coleman-steele Nexus
Will Norm Coleman concede if and when the Minnesota Supreme Court rules that Al Franken is the rightful winner of the 2008 Senate election? Not according to RNC chair Michael Steele: No, hell no. Whatever the outcome, it's going to get bumped to the next level. This does not end until there's a final ruling that speaks to whether or not those votes that have not been counted should be counted. And Norm Coleman will not, will not jump out of this race before that.
Survivor: Gop Edition
Dick Cheney's Sunday morning bitch slap of Colin Powell clinched it: The GOP is fast degenerating into a trashy, smack-talking, back-stabbing reality spectacle ala "Real Housewives." So I'm thinking it's time to hammer out some details and make a pitch to the networks. Luckily, one of my colleagues is hitched to someone who runs her own development company. So we've got a leg up! But finding a winning formula can be tricky. Off the top of my head, I see a couple of obvious ways to go: 1.
Harold Pollack 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. He is a regular contributor to The Treatment. Over at HuffPo, reporter Ryan Grim reveals that the Obama administration is holding off on its pledge to revoke the ban on federal funding for needle exchange. As Grim reports in this fine little story: … Obama's budget includes language that bans spending federal money on needle-exchange programs.
The Senate Finance Committee is staging a hearing about the issue many observers, myself included, believe is the single biggest challenge in health care reform: Paying to expand coverage over the next few years, before efficiency improvements and other cost-cutting measures start to yield real savings. The purpose of this hearing is not to hash out a final deal.
Not A Road Map But A Calendar
The White House puts out a schedule for Obama's coming talks with various Middle East leaders: Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel will visit on May 18, President Mubarak of Egypt will visit on May 26, and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority will visit on May 28. It seems noteworthy that Mubarak is included in that grouping, especially in light of Obama's decision to make his big speech to the Arab world next month in Cairo. The White House, it seems, is eager to once again make Egypt a key player in its Middle East strategy.
Democracy In Pakistan, Cont'd
Why did the Obama team take so much care to drop the word "democracy" during last week's AfPak meetings? Here's your answer: As the Pakistani military pressed its campaign to root out Taliban militants from three districts northwest of the capital, a recent poll showed that an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis did not consider terrorism to be the most important issue facing the country, but instead ranked the economy at the top.