June 04, 2009
Talk Amongst Yourselves
As health care reform enters the phase of serious legislation, it becomes vital to understand what the American people expect and believe ... and how the forthcoming debate is likely to affect their views. Because no one has tracked these matters more carefully and professionally than the Kaiser Family Foundation, I reviewed a number of documents they've published during the past eight months and supplemented their findings with other credible sources.
Tiananmen Square, 20 Years Later
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the massacre in Tiananmen Square. To mark the occasion, TNR has taken a look back at what our writers said at the time. In a TRB column, then-TNR editor Hendrik Hertzberg was optimistic that the students would prevail, establishing a democratic government in short order.
Just Like Bush
Cairo, EgyptOne year ago today, Barack Obama clinched the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. In doing so, he defied Hillary Clinton’s criticism that his candidacy amounted to little more than shallow and flowery speeches. Change, Clinton argued, comes from hard work--not pretty words. Today, in the Grand Hall of Cairo University, Clinton listened from the front row as Obama gave his most elegant speech yet. Perhaps it dawned on Clinton, if it hadn’t already, that a great speech can do a lot of the hard work for you.In some ways, Obama’s speech was anticlimactic.
When we last left Boehner et al, they were unveiling an alternative to Obama's budget without any, you know, numbers. Now they're finally releasing their deficit-reduction plans, and the good news is that there are some actual numbers involved. (Sorta.) The bad news (or the additional good news if you're a Democratic operative) is that the numbers are ridiculous.
Good Cop, Bad Cop
The Hill reports that while Senate Republicans have publicly distanced themselves from the activists attacking Sonia Sotomayor's nomination, the behind-the-scenes message is a different one: Lanier Swann, an aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), told a private meeting of conservative activists Wednesday to keep up their pressure on Sotomayor.“Swann told us she wanted to encourage all of us in our talking points and that we’re having traction among Republicans and unnerving Democrats,” said an attendee of Wednesday’s weekly meeting hosted by Grover Norquist, the president of A
Joe Klein happened to interview the Hamas leader an hour after Obama's Cairo speech. Meshal wasn't impressed: "Undoubtedly Obama speaks a new language," he told me. "His speech was cleverly designed... The essence of the speech was to improve the U.S. image and to placate the Muslims. We don't mind either objective, but we are looking for more than just mere words. If the United States wishes to open a new page, we definitely would welcome this. We are keen to contribute to this. But we [believe that can not happen] merely with words.
A note to the GOP: I don't know the man, but conservative pundit (and former GOPAC political director) Peter Roff has all but outed himself as a Democratic mole: The sudden re-emergence on the political scene of former Vice President Dick Cheney is somewhat puzzling. Why would a man who has occupied positions of authority in Congress and the White House, been a success in business, and has a wife who works outside the home want to re-enter the arena when he didn't have to?
A Sad Commentary
Michael Rubin: Obama abandons Democracy Obama studiously avoids the word democracy. Instead, he declared, "That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people." Dictators of the world, relax: Stage a spontaneous demonstration to demonstrate popular adulation; don't worrt about those pesky votes. Barack Obama: The fourth issue that I will address is democracy. (Applause.) I know -- I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear:
My colleague John Judis e-mailed yesterday after Ben Bernanke's Hill testimony worried that the Fed chairman was trying to mau-mau the administration into tightening the money spigots prematurely, possibly triggering a 1937-style economic relapse. It was comments like these in particular that had John worried: [I]n recent weeks, yields on longer-term Treasury securities and fixed-rate mortgages have risen. These increases appear to reflect concerns about large federal deficits but also other causes...
Meanwhile, In Iran . . .
Today's NYT has an account of what sounds as if it was a pretty extraordinary debate between Ahmadinejad and one of his opponents in next week's election, Mir Hussein Moussavi: With the presidential election to be held June 12, Mr. Moussavi was on the offensive during the debate, which was broadcast by state-run television. At one point he accused Mr. Ahmadinejad of moving Iran toward “dictatorship.” At another, he said that the president’s foreign policy suffered from “adventurism, illusionism, exhibitionism, extremism and superficiality.” He also took issue with Mr.