president

One of the most frustrating consequences of an Election Day like Tuesday is that it invariably (if fleetingly) transforms moderate politicians with no particular insight into the dynamics of public opinion into all-knowing sages. More to the point, it elevates their perfect-for-every-occasion view of politics, which says that if your party suffers a setback, the reason must be that it was too far to one side of the political spectrum, and so the answer is obviously to move back to the middle.

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Numb

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- Tuesday's elections were a rebuke to the right wing and a warning to Democrats.  They were also a timely reminder that President Obama needs to tune up his celebrated political organization and find a way to make Americans feel hopeful again. The night's biggest loser was the national conservative political machine--the wealthy tax-cutters at the Club for Growth and the Palin-Limbaugh-Beck complex.

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James Gardner, formerly the architecture critic of the New York Sun, now writes on culture for several publications.  That Golem that was just unveiled in one of the main squares of Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, turns out to be none other than William Jefferson Clinton. Apparently he is something of a god over there: The locals are grateful for his initiating, in 1999, the NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia that curbed Serbian aggressions against the ethnic Albanians, and so they have raised this astounding monument to the man.

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Apparently there’s a rumor making the rounds in some corners of Wall Street that yesterday’s election results are driving today’s stock market rally—the theory being that the results are a blow to Obama’s agenda, and stopping Obama is good for the market. (I just got a call from a producer at CNBC asking me what I thought about this). The reasons why this theory is utterly ludicrous are almost too numerous to catalogue, but let me give it a quick shot: First, as I write this (around 1:30 pm), the Dow is up about 100 points, or just over 1 percent.

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Can't Win with 'Em...

Dave Weigel's dispatch from NY-23 last night describes the evolving message of the Hoffman camp: Hours before the polls closed, Hoffman backers were echoing the pundits’ spin–this race would be a referendum on President Obama, and a victory for Hoffman would put the brakes on health care reform by making Democrats worry about challenges to their re-elections in 2010. As a Hoffman victory became more and more remote, the rhetoric changed. The message became the message of two weeks ago. This election wasn’t about showing Republicans that conservatives could win.

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Frankly, I cannot imagine a more devastating reproach to the president and his presidency than this anguished cry from the streets of Tehran. Shame to Obama that the Iranian democrats should actually wonder: "which side are you on?" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-yLLZ3JGfM But, Mr. President, "which side are you really on?" This morning, on the thirtieth anniversary of the Islamic regime's takeover of the U.S.

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If your image of Milwaukee is largely derived from Laverne and Shirley re-runs, think again.

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V: Tea Party TV

I didn’t watch much television as a kid. But when the miniseries “V” came out in 1983, when I was eleven years old, it was event television for the entire family. The sci-fi series used an alien invasion of Earth under friendly guise as a metaphor for fascism. Rather than Jews, the aliens targeted scientists (whose knowledge made them dangerous) as scapegoats. By the standards of early 1980s television, which were quite low, “V” was gripping drama. Last night, ABC aired the pilot episode of a remake of “V.” I had to watch. The episode was so-so.

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Mixed Messages

Republicans are proclaiming victory after their candidates won statehouses in New Jersey and Virginia. And well they should. These were both states that went for Barack Obama in 2008. But how much do these elections really say about Obama and the prospects of the national Democratic Party? Some network commentators, citing suspiciously high approval ratings for Obama in New Jersey and Virginia, claim the elections say nothing at all about the president and his party.

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On the Job

Anthony Wright is executive director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. He blogs daily at the Health Access Weblog and is a regular contributor to the Treatment. When Senate Majority Leader Reid held a press conference announcing the inclusion of a version of a public health insurance option in the merged Senate health reform bill, he didn’t mention the outcome of another major difference between the two Senate committee proposals--what would be responsibility of employers with regard to on-the-job coverage.

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