Commentary Magazine


Topic: health-care law

A Bad Day in Court?

The conventional wisdom from “experts’” polling has been that President Obama’s health care reform law is likely to be upheld by the Supreme Court. But after today’s arguments, it sounds like that narrative may have changed. CNN’s senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who previously predicted that the Obama administration would prevail at the Supreme Court, came out of the hearing today with a very different perspective. Via HotAir:

The Supreme Court just wrapped up the second day of oral arguments in the landmark case against President Obama’s healthcare overhaul, and reports from inside the courtroom indicate that the controversial law took quite a beating.

Today’s arguments focused around the central constitutional question of whether Congress has the power to force Americans to either pay for health insurance or pay a penalty.

According to CNN’s legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, the arguments were “a train wreck for the Obama administration.”

“This law looks like it’s going to be struck down. I’m telling you, all of the predictions including mine that the justices would not have a problem with this law were wrong,” Toobin just said on CNN.

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The conventional wisdom from “experts’” polling has been that President Obama’s health care reform law is likely to be upheld by the Supreme Court. But after today’s arguments, it sounds like that narrative may have changed. CNN’s senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who previously predicted that the Obama administration would prevail at the Supreme Court, came out of the hearing today with a very different perspective. Via HotAir:

The Supreme Court just wrapped up the second day of oral arguments in the landmark case against President Obama’s healthcare overhaul, and reports from inside the courtroom indicate that the controversial law took quite a beating.

Today’s arguments focused around the central constitutional question of whether Congress has the power to force Americans to either pay for health insurance or pay a penalty.

According to CNN’s legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, the arguments were “a train wreck for the Obama administration.”

“This law looks like it’s going to be struck down. I’m telling you, all of the predictions including mine that the justices would not have a problem with this law were wrong,” Toobin just said on CNN.

The Washington Examiner’s Phil Klein reports the conservative justices seemed highly skeptical of the administration’s arguments during questioning, despite speculation that Chief Justice Roberts might rule in favor of upholding the law. Justice Kennedy, who is most likely to be the deciding vote, also appeared dubious:

Justice Anthony Kennedy, long seen as the swing vote in the case, repeatedly said that the mandate was unprecedented and that the government had a “heavy burden” to justify it. He said that it changed the relationship between the individual and the government in a “fundamental” way.

Also, one of the key arguments made by challengers in the case, is that earlier rulings of the Commerce Clause don’t apply here because the mandate forces people to enter the stream of commerce. On this point, Kennedy asked Obama’s Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, “Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?”

The argument today centered on whether or not the individual mandate is a tax. The administration maintains it is a tax, which gives Congress the constitutional authority to implement it. By all accounts, the justices didn’t seem to accept that characterization of the mandate today. But of course, this is all speculation based on the questions and tone from the justices – which isn’t always an accurate indicator of where they stand – and there’s still another day of arguments tomorrow.

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LIVE BLOG: Health Care

Okay, we’re back to the old partisanship. Democrats stood and applauded Obama’s mention of his health-care law. Republicans sat in stony silence. As they should have. And the divide grows deeper as Obama continues to campaign for it from the podium.

Okay, we’re back to the old partisanship. Democrats stood and applauded Obama’s mention of his health-care law. Republicans sat in stony silence. As they should have. And the divide grows deeper as Obama continues to campaign for it from the podium.

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The Health-Care Bill: A Millstone Around the President’s Neck

While President Obama’s overall standing with the public is increasing, his standing on health care is not.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll, by a margin of 48-43 percent, the public wants Congress to repeal his health-care overhaul.

According to Quinnipiac’s analysis, the key to the public support for repealing the new health-care law is among independent voters. They want it taken off the books by a margin of 54 percent v. 37 percent. (Republicans favor repeal by a margin of 83 percent vs. 12 percent, while Democrats support the health-care reform 76 percent vs. 16 percent.)

“The Republicans pushing repeal of the health care law have more American people on their side. They may not have the votes in the Senate, but they have many on Main Street,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “While President Obama’s poll rating has improved in recent weeks, the coalition against his health care plan remains and is quite similar to the one that existed when his numbers were at their nadir.”

According to a Resurgent Republic poll, a plurality of registered voters (49 to 44 percent) supports Republican plans to repeal and replace the health-care reform bill, including a majority of independents (54 to 36 percent support). While overall intensity is balanced (37 percent strongly support and 34 percent strongly oppose), independents are more intense in their preference for repeal (39 percent strongly support and 24 percent strongly oppose).

And the most recent Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that public approval of the president’s handling of health care is 43 percent, while the percentage of people who say they trust Obama rather than the Republicans on health care stands at 42 percent — nine points lower than it was only a month ago.

“This is the first Post-ABC poll in which Obama has not led the GOP on health-care reform,” according to the Post story.

What these polls show is that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act remains a political millstone around the neck of Democrats. Republicans are right to push for its repeal, on both substantive and policy grounds. In the unfolding entitlement debate, ObamaCare should be front and center. Conservative lawmakers should make a very simply argument: if President Obama is serious about getting America’s fiscal house in order, he needs to repeal last year’s health-care bill and start over again. It’s a budget buster, as this op-ed makes clear. Until Obama himself admits as much, until he undoes the enormous damage of his own making, his credibility on fiscal matters is shattered beyond repair.

While President Obama’s overall standing with the public is increasing, his standing on health care is not.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll, by a margin of 48-43 percent, the public wants Congress to repeal his health-care overhaul.

According to Quinnipiac’s analysis, the key to the public support for repealing the new health-care law is among independent voters. They want it taken off the books by a margin of 54 percent v. 37 percent. (Republicans favor repeal by a margin of 83 percent vs. 12 percent, while Democrats support the health-care reform 76 percent vs. 16 percent.)

“The Republicans pushing repeal of the health care law have more American people on their side. They may not have the votes in the Senate, but they have many on Main Street,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “While President Obama’s poll rating has improved in recent weeks, the coalition against his health care plan remains and is quite similar to the one that existed when his numbers were at their nadir.”

According to a Resurgent Republic poll, a plurality of registered voters (49 to 44 percent) supports Republican plans to repeal and replace the health-care reform bill, including a majority of independents (54 to 36 percent support). While overall intensity is balanced (37 percent strongly support and 34 percent strongly oppose), independents are more intense in their preference for repeal (39 percent strongly support and 24 percent strongly oppose).

And the most recent Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that public approval of the president’s handling of health care is 43 percent, while the percentage of people who say they trust Obama rather than the Republicans on health care stands at 42 percent — nine points lower than it was only a month ago.

“This is the first Post-ABC poll in which Obama has not led the GOP on health-care reform,” according to the Post story.

What these polls show is that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act remains a political millstone around the neck of Democrats. Republicans are right to push for its repeal, on both substantive and policy grounds. In the unfolding entitlement debate, ObamaCare should be front and center. Conservative lawmakers should make a very simply argument: if President Obama is serious about getting America’s fiscal house in order, he needs to repeal last year’s health-care bill and start over again. It’s a budget buster, as this op-ed makes clear. Until Obama himself admits as much, until he undoes the enormous damage of his own making, his credibility on fiscal matters is shattered beyond repair.

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Fewer than 1 in 4 Believe Country Headed in Right Direction

According to Scott Rasmussen, just 23 percent  of voters now say the country is heading in the right direction, the lowest numbers of the Obama presidency. In addition, likely voters trust Republicans more than Democrats on seven out of the 10 most-important issues regularly surveyed by Rasmussen Reports (that’s down slightly from just before the election, when Republicans were preferred on all 10 issues).

On the economy, the issue of most importance to  voters, the GOP holds a 47 percent to
39 percent edge.

Rasmussen also found that most voters have favored repeal of the new national health-care law every week since it was passed and that support for repeal has now inched up to its highest level since mid-September. Tracking with this result, this week’s ABC News/Washington Post survey found that support for ObamaCare to be at its lowest level to date, with 43 percent supporting it and 52 percent opposing it.

None of these findings is surprising; in fact, they are interconnected. The direction President Obama and his party are taking the country is unnerving and upsetting a lot of people. That unease has to be undone, at least in part, next year. Because if it’s not, then Democrats will begin to abandon the Obama ship in droves. Having experienced a historic midterm repudiation of their party, Democrats won’t be eager for another.

According to Scott Rasmussen, just 23 percent  of voters now say the country is heading in the right direction, the lowest numbers of the Obama presidency. In addition, likely voters trust Republicans more than Democrats on seven out of the 10 most-important issues regularly surveyed by Rasmussen Reports (that’s down slightly from just before the election, when Republicans were preferred on all 10 issues).

On the economy, the issue of most importance to  voters, the GOP holds a 47 percent to
39 percent edge.

Rasmussen also found that most voters have favored repeal of the new national health-care law every week since it was passed and that support for repeal has now inched up to its highest level since mid-September. Tracking with this result, this week’s ABC News/Washington Post survey found that support for ObamaCare to be at its lowest level to date, with 43 percent supporting it and 52 percent opposing it.

None of these findings is surprising; in fact, they are interconnected. The direction President Obama and his party are taking the country is unnerving and upsetting a lot of people. That unease has to be undone, at least in part, next year. Because if it’s not, then Democrats will begin to abandon the Obama ship in droves. Having experienced a historic midterm repudiation of their party, Democrats won’t be eager for another.

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Obama’s Cynical Maneuvering on the Health-Care Mandate

In his 42-page ruling that the keystone provision in President Obama’s health-care law — the mandate to force Americans to purchase health insurance — is unconstitutional, Judge Henry E. Hudson made several powerful arguments. But there is one to which I want to draw particular attention.

On page 25 of his decision, Judge Hudson writes, “Despite pre-enactment representations to the contrary by the Executive and Legislative branches, the Secretary now argues that the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision is, in essence, a ‘tax penalty.’”

That’s a polite way of saying that the Obama administration willfully misled the public during the health-care debate. In fact, President Obama repeatedly denied that the mandate was a tax — but now, in order to pass constitutional muster, his administration is insisting it is. I urge you to watch the president’s interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos to see just how emphatic Obama was. When Stephanopoulos says that the mandate is a tax increase, Obama scolds Stephanopoulos. “That’s not true, George,” the president says. “[It] is absolutely not a tax increase.”

Now the president and his administration are arguing exactly the opposite.

This is a deeply cynical maneuver on the part of the man who promised to put an end to cynical political acts. Like so much of what Obama said, this promise was fraudulent. Perhaps the White House press corps will insist that the president and his spokesman explain the inconsistency between what Obama said and what his administration is now asserting.

In his 42-page ruling that the keystone provision in President Obama’s health-care law — the mandate to force Americans to purchase health insurance — is unconstitutional, Judge Henry E. Hudson made several powerful arguments. But there is one to which I want to draw particular attention.

On page 25 of his decision, Judge Hudson writes, “Despite pre-enactment representations to the contrary by the Executive and Legislative branches, the Secretary now argues that the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision is, in essence, a ‘tax penalty.’”

That’s a polite way of saying that the Obama administration willfully misled the public during the health-care debate. In fact, President Obama repeatedly denied that the mandate was a tax — but now, in order to pass constitutional muster, his administration is insisting it is. I urge you to watch the president’s interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos to see just how emphatic Obama was. When Stephanopoulos says that the mandate is a tax increase, Obama scolds Stephanopoulos. “That’s not true, George,” the president says. “[It] is absolutely not a tax increase.”

Now the president and his administration are arguing exactly the opposite.

This is a deeply cynical maneuver on the part of the man who promised to put an end to cynical political acts. Like so much of what Obama said, this promise was fraudulent. Perhaps the White House press corps will insist that the president and his spokesman explain the inconsistency between what Obama said and what his administration is now asserting.

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Debt-Reduction Commission Finally Agrees … Not to Issue Final Report Today

Finally, Washington is getting some bipartisan cooperation from some congressional leaders — but it may not be what those who bemoan the lack of bipartisanship in politics have in mind. The New York Times reports that there is unanimous opposition from the six Democrat and six Republican members of Congress who sit on the president’s debt-reduction commission to issuing a final report today. We’ve known for weeks that the commission was having problems reaching consensus on how best to deal with the mounting public debt — nearly $14 trillion and climbing — though its co-chairs, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, are on the same page: cut spending and raise taxes.

The chairmen’s plan would cap annual spending for both domestic and military programs; build on the cost-savings steps in Mr. Obama’s health-care law; raise Social Security payroll taxes for affluent taxpayers while slowly increasing the retirement age to 69 from 67; and reduce or eliminate a raft of popular tax breaks, including the mortgage-interest deduction, in return for lower income-tax rates for individuals and corporations.

But neither Bowles nor Simpson has to face voters, as the 12 congressional members do. In order to issue a report, the commission must win support for its recommendations from 14 of the 18 members; but that is looking unlikely at the moment, even though the commission has extended its deadline to Friday. Predictably, Democrats don’t want to endorse many of the spending cuts, while Republicans are averse to tax increases.

Since when has any presidential or congressional commission actually solved a complex issue? (Not that Congress does such a great job either.) Sure, compromise is often necessary, but the pleas emanating from editorial boards and pundits for more bipartisanship in Washington more often than not mean they want Republicans to abandon their principles. But since we’re talking about debt here, there really is only one solution — stop spending so much. Tax revenues will increase without hiking rates for anyone or taking away deductions when people start working again. But unless we do something about spending, most importantly on entitlements, we will never begin to pay down that debt.

Finally, Washington is getting some bipartisan cooperation from some congressional leaders — but it may not be what those who bemoan the lack of bipartisanship in politics have in mind. The New York Times reports that there is unanimous opposition from the six Democrat and six Republican members of Congress who sit on the president’s debt-reduction commission to issuing a final report today. We’ve known for weeks that the commission was having problems reaching consensus on how best to deal with the mounting public debt — nearly $14 trillion and climbing — though its co-chairs, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, are on the same page: cut spending and raise taxes.

The chairmen’s plan would cap annual spending for both domestic and military programs; build on the cost-savings steps in Mr. Obama’s health-care law; raise Social Security payroll taxes for affluent taxpayers while slowly increasing the retirement age to 69 from 67; and reduce or eliminate a raft of popular tax breaks, including the mortgage-interest deduction, in return for lower income-tax rates for individuals and corporations.

But neither Bowles nor Simpson has to face voters, as the 12 congressional members do. In order to issue a report, the commission must win support for its recommendations from 14 of the 18 members; but that is looking unlikely at the moment, even though the commission has extended its deadline to Friday. Predictably, Democrats don’t want to endorse many of the spending cuts, while Republicans are averse to tax increases.

Since when has any presidential or congressional commission actually solved a complex issue? (Not that Congress does such a great job either.) Sure, compromise is often necessary, but the pleas emanating from editorial boards and pundits for more bipartisanship in Washington more often than not mean they want Republicans to abandon their principles. But since we’re talking about debt here, there really is only one solution — stop spending so much. Tax revenues will increase without hiking rates for anyone or taking away deductions when people start working again. But unless we do something about spending, most importantly on entitlements, we will never begin to pay down that debt.

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Violence and Anti-Semitism From the Left, Not the Right

The conventional wisdom of liberal America is that the Tea Party backlash against the Obama administration and its health-care law was fueled by racism, hate, and a veiled hint of violence. The idea that a grassroots movement of citizens appalled by the aggrandizement of the federal government and the administration’s overreach might rise up in protest is simply something that many, if not most, liberals can’t understand. Even the Anti-Defamation League tried to link the wackiest violent extremists and mainstream Republican critics of Obama in a controversial report.

And yet, for all the huffing and puffing about conservative hate, there was little or no evidence behind such accusations. Liberal politicians were often brusquely scolded about the Constitution at town-hall meetings by Tea Partiers — an indignity that some considered somehow non-democratic — but none were harmed.

Yet today comes a reminder that far from violence being the preserve of the right, the left is just as likely to be guilty of such incitement. As the New York Times reported on its political blog:

A Philadelphia man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to threatening Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 Republican in the House, earlier this year. Prosecutors said that the man, Norman LeBoon, declared in a video put on YouTube that he would shoot Mr. Cantor in the head and called him and his children “Lucifer’s abominations.” … The video, prosecutors said, was put on YouTube in late March — around the time the health care overhaul became law and amid a spell of threats and acts of vandalism directed at lawmakers.

If anything, this case illustrates the not-so-tenuous connection between left-wing extremism and anti-Semitism; singling out Cantor— the only Jewish Republican in the House at the time — and referencing him in terms straight out of the traditional stereotypes of Jew-hatred is the sort of thing that ought to send alarm bells ringing among those who monitor such hatred.

The conventional wisdom of liberal America is that the Tea Party backlash against the Obama administration and its health-care law was fueled by racism, hate, and a veiled hint of violence. The idea that a grassroots movement of citizens appalled by the aggrandizement of the federal government and the administration’s overreach might rise up in protest is simply something that many, if not most, liberals can’t understand. Even the Anti-Defamation League tried to link the wackiest violent extremists and mainstream Republican critics of Obama in a controversial report.

And yet, for all the huffing and puffing about conservative hate, there was little or no evidence behind such accusations. Liberal politicians were often brusquely scolded about the Constitution at town-hall meetings by Tea Partiers — an indignity that some considered somehow non-democratic — but none were harmed.

Yet today comes a reminder that far from violence being the preserve of the right, the left is just as likely to be guilty of such incitement. As the New York Times reported on its political blog:

A Philadelphia man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to threatening Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 Republican in the House, earlier this year. Prosecutors said that the man, Norman LeBoon, declared in a video put on YouTube that he would shoot Mr. Cantor in the head and called him and his children “Lucifer’s abominations.” … The video, prosecutors said, was put on YouTube in late March — around the time the health care overhaul became law and amid a spell of threats and acts of vandalism directed at lawmakers.

If anything, this case illustrates the not-so-tenuous connection between left-wing extremism and anti-Semitism; singling out Cantor— the only Jewish Republican in the House at the time — and referencing him in terms straight out of the traditional stereotypes of Jew-hatred is the sort of thing that ought to send alarm bells ringing among those who monitor such hatred.

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ObamaCare’s Thorny Implementation

In interpreting a key Department of Health and Human Services announcement, the New York Times reported that so far, 30 insurers, employers, and union plans, responsible for covering about one million people, have been given one-year waivers by the government on the new rules that phase out annual limits on coverage for limited-benefit plans, also known as “mini-meds.” In the words of the Times, “the waivers have been issued in the last several weeks as part of a broader strategic effort to stave off threats by some health insurers to abandon markets, drop out of the business altogether or refuse to sell certain policies.”

This action highlights one of the great dangers of ObamaCare, which is that every health-care decision now has to run through the federal government. Private companies have to bow before its throne, asking for waivers and massively complicating their own lives. The federal government is now in a much stronger position to pick winners and losers and rig the game. This is the kind of expansion of federal power that many people feared and warned about – and it’s happening within weeks of the law taking effect.

The waivers are also the Obama administration’s attempt to minimize the negative impact of ObamaCare less than a month before the midterm election. It’s now clear that the new health-care law was very poorly constructed and is having enormous implementation problems. To issue waivers to undo the damaging effects of a new law is a very bad sign. No wonder so few Democratic candidates are running on their support for ObamaCare – and why so many Republican candidates are running hard against it.

This story is part of a broader, unfolding one: the collision between Obama’s promises on health care and reality. Promise after promise – including bending the health-care cost curve down, the cost of premiums being lower, and no person being forced to give up their existing coverage – is being shattered. On almost every particular, what Obama said would happen not only isn’t coming to pass; the opposite is occurring. I discussed some of this on my appearance on Special Report with Bret Bair last night.

The waivers are real trouble for Obama on health care – but they are also damaging his credibility. When the gap between what one says will happen and what actually happens becomes the size of a canyon, it has an acidic effect on one of the most important things an American president relies on: his trustworthiness, the belief that his word is good and he can be counted on.

In interpreting a key Department of Health and Human Services announcement, the New York Times reported that so far, 30 insurers, employers, and union plans, responsible for covering about one million people, have been given one-year waivers by the government on the new rules that phase out annual limits on coverage for limited-benefit plans, also known as “mini-meds.” In the words of the Times, “the waivers have been issued in the last several weeks as part of a broader strategic effort to stave off threats by some health insurers to abandon markets, drop out of the business altogether or refuse to sell certain policies.”

This action highlights one of the great dangers of ObamaCare, which is that every health-care decision now has to run through the federal government. Private companies have to bow before its throne, asking for waivers and massively complicating their own lives. The federal government is now in a much stronger position to pick winners and losers and rig the game. This is the kind of expansion of federal power that many people feared and warned about – and it’s happening within weeks of the law taking effect.

The waivers are also the Obama administration’s attempt to minimize the negative impact of ObamaCare less than a month before the midterm election. It’s now clear that the new health-care law was very poorly constructed and is having enormous implementation problems. To issue waivers to undo the damaging effects of a new law is a very bad sign. No wonder so few Democratic candidates are running on their support for ObamaCare – and why so many Republican candidates are running hard against it.

This story is part of a broader, unfolding one: the collision between Obama’s promises on health care and reality. Promise after promise – including bending the health-care cost curve down, the cost of premiums being lower, and no person being forced to give up their existing coverage – is being shattered. On almost every particular, what Obama said would happen not only isn’t coming to pass; the opposite is occurring. I discussed some of this on my appearance on Special Report with Bret Bair last night.

The waivers are real trouble for Obama on health care – but they are also damaging his credibility. When the gap between what one says will happen and what actually happens becomes the size of a canyon, it has an acidic effect on one of the most important things an American president relies on: his trustworthiness, the belief that his word is good and he can be counted on.

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Batting .000 With the Voters

The Democrats not only got the economic policy wrong (Keynesian economic policy works no better in 2010 than it did in the 1930s) — they, time and again, have gotten the politics wrong.

On taxes, the class-warfare gambit is turning into a retreat:

Going into a pivotal caucus Thursday, Senate Democrats show more and more signs of losing their nerve and backing away from earlier plans with the White House to force a vote on middle-class tax cuts prior to November’s election.

A final decision has not been made by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), but it’s a real political Rubicon with no safe choice in today’s political climate. Taxes have long been a third rail for Democrats, but to have no vote at all could also be seen as a sign of weakness.

Once the Senate Democrats run for the hills, the House Democrats will be close behind. If so, the Democrats will have the worst of both worlds: the voters will know they would dearly love to raise taxes and the base will know they don’t have the political moxie to act on their convictions. (“White House officials have been warning this week that they expected no vote — provoking some frustration among liberals that the administration wasn’t doing more to intercede.”)

That political miscalculation, however, is nothing compared to the ObamaCare debacle. This report suggests that just “everyone” thought ObamaCare would be a winner. (Hmm, a lot of us who were watching the rowdy town-hall protesters and the poll numbers argued it wouldn’t, but no, never mind. It sounds better if everyone was wrong.) Is it really a “riddle” that voters don’t appreciate the “historic” legislation – or has it become crystal clear to all but the deluded that ObamaCare was a bust, politically? It seems that the White House’s assurance that it would prevent an electoral wipe-out was hooey. Now we hear:

“The textbook in a civics class of how the institution should not act was the health care bill,” Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., told NBC News this month. “It was arrogant. Both parties were arrogant and selfish, in my view.”

Did he not vote for it? Whatever — he’s retiring. Too many arrogant ethical lapses.

Inside the Beltway, they are amazed that “rather than being viewed as a kooky notion, the repeal-and-replace battle cry resonates with the electorate: Polls show voters are divided on the question, with about as many people opposed to rolling back the law as those who favor doing so.” Actually, some polls show that many more favor repeal. (“61 percent of likely U.S. voters now at least somewhat favor repeal of the new national health-care law, including 50 percent who Strongly Favor it.”)

Whatever the spin doctors and the media enablers tell us, the historical record is there for all to see. Democrats ignored the public’s anger, pooh-poohed the polls, and scoffed at the conservatives’ warning that a party-line vote on a mammoth bill of taxes and regulations disguised as “reform” was a grave political miscalculation. In the political debate, with a nod to Ronald Reagan, we conservatives win; liberals lose.

This chapter in the Obama era of policy overreach and political tone-deafness will come to an end on election day. Afterwards, the Democrats would be wise to listen more to their Republican colleagues than to the White House. The latter seems not to have a clue about the American electorate.

The Democrats not only got the economic policy wrong (Keynesian economic policy works no better in 2010 than it did in the 1930s) — they, time and again, have gotten the politics wrong.

On taxes, the class-warfare gambit is turning into a retreat:

Going into a pivotal caucus Thursday, Senate Democrats show more and more signs of losing their nerve and backing away from earlier plans with the White House to force a vote on middle-class tax cuts prior to November’s election.

A final decision has not been made by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), but it’s a real political Rubicon with no safe choice in today’s political climate. Taxes have long been a third rail for Democrats, but to have no vote at all could also be seen as a sign of weakness.

Once the Senate Democrats run for the hills, the House Democrats will be close behind. If so, the Democrats will have the worst of both worlds: the voters will know they would dearly love to raise taxes and the base will know they don’t have the political moxie to act on their convictions. (“White House officials have been warning this week that they expected no vote — provoking some frustration among liberals that the administration wasn’t doing more to intercede.”)

That political miscalculation, however, is nothing compared to the ObamaCare debacle. This report suggests that just “everyone” thought ObamaCare would be a winner. (Hmm, a lot of us who were watching the rowdy town-hall protesters and the poll numbers argued it wouldn’t, but no, never mind. It sounds better if everyone was wrong.) Is it really a “riddle” that voters don’t appreciate the “historic” legislation – or has it become crystal clear to all but the deluded that ObamaCare was a bust, politically? It seems that the White House’s assurance that it would prevent an electoral wipe-out was hooey. Now we hear:

“The textbook in a civics class of how the institution should not act was the health care bill,” Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., told NBC News this month. “It was arrogant. Both parties were arrogant and selfish, in my view.”

Did he not vote for it? Whatever — he’s retiring. Too many arrogant ethical lapses.

Inside the Beltway, they are amazed that “rather than being viewed as a kooky notion, the repeal-and-replace battle cry resonates with the electorate: Polls show voters are divided on the question, with about as many people opposed to rolling back the law as those who favor doing so.” Actually, some polls show that many more favor repeal. (“61 percent of likely U.S. voters now at least somewhat favor repeal of the new national health-care law, including 50 percent who Strongly Favor it.”)

Whatever the spin doctors and the media enablers tell us, the historical record is there for all to see. Democrats ignored the public’s anger, pooh-poohed the polls, and scoffed at the conservatives’ warning that a party-line vote on a mammoth bill of taxes and regulations disguised as “reform” was a grave political miscalculation. In the political debate, with a nod to Ronald Reagan, we conservatives win; liberals lose.

This chapter in the Obama era of policy overreach and political tone-deafness will come to an end on election day. Afterwards, the Democrats would be wise to listen more to their Republican colleagues than to the White House. The latter seems not to have a clue about the American electorate.

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RE: Tim Kaine Struggles as Dems Face a Tsunami

Poor Tim Kaine. A day after he urges Democrats to stand by ObamaCare, this comes out:

Sixty-one percent (61%) of Likely U.S. Voters now at least somewhat favor repeal of the new national health care law, including 50% who Strongly Favor it. That’s up eight points from a week ago and the highest level of opposition measured since late May. … Only 33% say the health care plan will be good for the country, the lowest level measured since late July. Fifty-six percent (56%) disagree and believe the new law will be bad for the United States.

Meanwhile, Obama and his spinners are conducting events to tout their great accomplishment. You sometimes have to wonder which side they are rooting for.

Poor Tim Kaine. A day after he urges Democrats to stand by ObamaCare, this comes out:

Sixty-one percent (61%) of Likely U.S. Voters now at least somewhat favor repeal of the new national health care law, including 50% who Strongly Favor it. That’s up eight points from a week ago and the highest level of opposition measured since late May. … Only 33% say the health care plan will be good for the country, the lowest level measured since late July. Fifty-six percent (56%) disagree and believe the new law will be bad for the United States.

Meanwhile, Obama and his spinners are conducting events to tout their great accomplishment. You sometimes have to wonder which side they are rooting for.

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ObamaCare Bending Up the Cost Curve

During his press conference on Friday, Jake Tapper, ABC’s excellent senior White House correspondent, asked President Obama about a new CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) report that shows that the health-care cost curve is actually bending up — not down, as during the health-care debate Obama had promised it would. In response, Obama said this:

With respect to health care, what I said during the debate is the same thing I’m saying now and it’s the same thing I will say three or four years from now. Bending the cost curve on health care is hard to do. We’ve got hundreds of thousands of providers and doctors and systems and insurers. And what we did was we took every idea out there about how to reduce or at least slow the costs of health care over time.

But I said at the time, it wasn’t going to happen tomorrow, it wasn’t going to happen next year. It took us decades to get into a position where our health care costs were going up 6, 7, 10 percent a year. And so our goal is to slowly bring down those costs. … I haven’t read the entire study. Maybe you have. But if you — if what — the reports are true, what they’re saying is, is that as a consequence of us getting 30 million additional people health care, at the margins that’s going to increase our costs, we knew that. We didn’t think that we were going to cover 30 million people for free, but that the long-term trend in terms of how much the average family is going to be paying for health insurance is going to be improved as a consequence of health care.

And so our goal on health care is, if we can get, instead of health care costs going up 6 percent a year, it’s going up at the level of inflation, maybe just slightly above inflation, we’ve made huge progress.

The president should read the report, which can be found here. It incorporates the effects of health-care reform and estimates annual spending growth to be 0.2 percentage points higher than its February 2010 estimate, increasing from 6.1 percent to 6.3 percent. According to the Wall Street Journal, “The report by federal number-crunchers casts fresh doubt on Democrats’ argument that the health-care law would curb the sharp increase in costs over the long term.”

In 2009, the report reads, national health-care spending, public and private, totaled $2.5 trillion and accounted for 17.3 percent of the economy. The report predicts that health-care spending will rise to $4.6 trillion and account for 19.6 percent of the economy in 2019. By contrast, in February — before the passage of ObamaCare — the same team of government experts, using the same economic and demographic assumptions, predicted that national health-care spending would reach $4.5 trillion, or 19.3 percent of the gross domestic product, in 2019. The report also anticipates a big increase in health-care spending in 2014, when major provisions of the new law, including a requirement for most Americans to have insurance, take effect. From 2013 to 2014, for example, overall health-care spending is expected to increase by 9.2 percent, which is significantly more than the 6.6 percent increase predicted before ObamaCare became law. (For more, see this story.)

Beyond that, the report assumes that the law’s sweeping reduction in Medicare payments to doctors — 30 percent over the next three years — will actually take place. As Grace-Marie Turner points out, “Congress will not let payment rates be reduced to these levels, so health spending will increase further.”

And former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin has written a paper arguing that ObamaCare provides strong incentives for employers to drop employer-sponsored health insurance for as many as 35 million Americans, funneling far more workers into taxpayer-funded health insurance, thereby raising the gross taxpayer cost of the subsidies by roughly $1.4 trillion in the first 10 years.

A core promise of the president’s signature legislative achievement, then, has been exposed as false. And for Obama, in light of the CMS report, to be talking about the cost of health care going up at or just above the level of inflation, which is running below 2 percent this year, is utterly fanciful. Moreover, the American people can be excused if during the health-care debate they didn’t pick up Obama’s warning that “bending the cost curve on health care is hard to do” and that he knew ObamaCare would increase costs in the short run. Those warnings were omitted, for example, in the president’s September 10, 2009 health-care speech to Congress, when Obama claimed that his plan “will slow the growth of health-care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.” Obama even pointed out that “if we are able to slow the growth of health-care costs by just one-tenth of one percent each year, it will actually reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the long term.” To reiterate: the new CMS report predicts an annual increase by two-tenths of one percent each year over the status quo — even accepting the Obama administration’s own ludicrously optimistic assumptions. The reality will be a good deal worse than the CMS report anticipates.

This is all of a piece. Claim after claim the president has made — on the stimulus package, on unemployment, on the deficit and the debt, on the “recovery summer,” on ObamaCare, and on so much more — is being shattered by events. The expectations he set were extraordinarily high and his performance so far is inept. That is one reason why Obama and his party will suffer enormous electoral losses seven weeks from now.

During his press conference on Friday, Jake Tapper, ABC’s excellent senior White House correspondent, asked President Obama about a new CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) report that shows that the health-care cost curve is actually bending up — not down, as during the health-care debate Obama had promised it would. In response, Obama said this:

With respect to health care, what I said during the debate is the same thing I’m saying now and it’s the same thing I will say three or four years from now. Bending the cost curve on health care is hard to do. We’ve got hundreds of thousands of providers and doctors and systems and insurers. And what we did was we took every idea out there about how to reduce or at least slow the costs of health care over time.

But I said at the time, it wasn’t going to happen tomorrow, it wasn’t going to happen next year. It took us decades to get into a position where our health care costs were going up 6, 7, 10 percent a year. And so our goal is to slowly bring down those costs. … I haven’t read the entire study. Maybe you have. But if you — if what — the reports are true, what they’re saying is, is that as a consequence of us getting 30 million additional people health care, at the margins that’s going to increase our costs, we knew that. We didn’t think that we were going to cover 30 million people for free, but that the long-term trend in terms of how much the average family is going to be paying for health insurance is going to be improved as a consequence of health care.

And so our goal on health care is, if we can get, instead of health care costs going up 6 percent a year, it’s going up at the level of inflation, maybe just slightly above inflation, we’ve made huge progress.

The president should read the report, which can be found here. It incorporates the effects of health-care reform and estimates annual spending growth to be 0.2 percentage points higher than its February 2010 estimate, increasing from 6.1 percent to 6.3 percent. According to the Wall Street Journal, “The report by federal number-crunchers casts fresh doubt on Democrats’ argument that the health-care law would curb the sharp increase in costs over the long term.”

In 2009, the report reads, national health-care spending, public and private, totaled $2.5 trillion and accounted for 17.3 percent of the economy. The report predicts that health-care spending will rise to $4.6 trillion and account for 19.6 percent of the economy in 2019. By contrast, in February — before the passage of ObamaCare — the same team of government experts, using the same economic and demographic assumptions, predicted that national health-care spending would reach $4.5 trillion, or 19.3 percent of the gross domestic product, in 2019. The report also anticipates a big increase in health-care spending in 2014, when major provisions of the new law, including a requirement for most Americans to have insurance, take effect. From 2013 to 2014, for example, overall health-care spending is expected to increase by 9.2 percent, which is significantly more than the 6.6 percent increase predicted before ObamaCare became law. (For more, see this story.)

Beyond that, the report assumes that the law’s sweeping reduction in Medicare payments to doctors — 30 percent over the next three years — will actually take place. As Grace-Marie Turner points out, “Congress will not let payment rates be reduced to these levels, so health spending will increase further.”

And former CBO director Douglas Holtz-Eakin has written a paper arguing that ObamaCare provides strong incentives for employers to drop employer-sponsored health insurance for as many as 35 million Americans, funneling far more workers into taxpayer-funded health insurance, thereby raising the gross taxpayer cost of the subsidies by roughly $1.4 trillion in the first 10 years.

A core promise of the president’s signature legislative achievement, then, has been exposed as false. And for Obama, in light of the CMS report, to be talking about the cost of health care going up at or just above the level of inflation, which is running below 2 percent this year, is utterly fanciful. Moreover, the American people can be excused if during the health-care debate they didn’t pick up Obama’s warning that “bending the cost curve on health care is hard to do” and that he knew ObamaCare would increase costs in the short run. Those warnings were omitted, for example, in the president’s September 10, 2009 health-care speech to Congress, when Obama claimed that his plan “will slow the growth of health-care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.” Obama even pointed out that “if we are able to slow the growth of health-care costs by just one-tenth of one percent each year, it will actually reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the long term.” To reiterate: the new CMS report predicts an annual increase by two-tenths of one percent each year over the status quo — even accepting the Obama administration’s own ludicrously optimistic assumptions. The reality will be a good deal worse than the CMS report anticipates.

This is all of a piece. Claim after claim the president has made — on the stimulus package, on unemployment, on the deficit and the debt, on the “recovery summer,” on ObamaCare, and on so much more — is being shattered by events. The expectations he set were extraordinarily high and his performance so far is inept. That is one reason why Obama and his party will suffer enormous electoral losses seven weeks from now.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Other than that, he’s done just fine. Howard Fineman: “Obama misread his mandate. … Obama misread the clock. … Obama misread his surroundings.” And most of all, the mainstream media misread him.

Other than “delusional,” how would you describe this? “White House senior adviser David Axelrod said Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press that he thinks voters will eventually warm to health care reform.”

Other than the Obami, who likes ObamaCare? “Many Democrats have joined Republicans in pushing for the repeal of a tax provision in the new health care law that imposes a huge information-reporting burden on small businesses.” And that’s the New York Times reporting.

Other than Larry King, who has the good sense to retire, is there a worse interviewer than Christiane Amanpour? Not a single tough follow-up question in her chat with Imam Abdul Rauf, no queries about his funding for the Ground Zero mosque, and no questions about his statements blaming the U.S. for 9/11. ABC execs who thought putting her in the host’s chair was a great idea should be embarrassed.

Other than keeping the current line-up, what personnel decision would be a loser? “There are indications that Obama plans to replace Emanuel with a loyalist. Among the names being floated is Valerie Jarrett, whose sole qualification for having a White House job is that she is a long-time Obama friend. In one of the most hilariously revealing utterances of the Obama presidency, Jarrett stated that the White House was ‘speaking truth to power’ by castigating Fox News. To make Jarrett chief of staff would be disastrous.”

Other than this, the recovery is going swell: “President Obama’s new chairman of the Council of Economic Affairs (CEA) said Sunday that the national unemployment rate will not decrease significantly anytime soon.”

Other than losing independents, turning off his base, and energizing conservatives, Obama has been great for his party. “Obama voters evince little interest in the midterm election. When they express goodwill toward the president, it rarely extends to his allies in Congress. Many do not consider themselves Democrats. Pew’s survey experts routinely ask respondents to characterize the president in a single word. In their most recent poll, conducted this summer, more respondents than ever answered with the word ‘disappointing.’ Some who threw their lot in with Obama expressed a sense of being let down by the man who promised change and pledged to transform the country. Some attributed that to their own lofty expectations and, perhaps, their naivete. Others pointed to what they saw as his lack of focus on the still-faltering economy.” These were people who voted for him in 2008.

Other than that, he’s done just fine. Howard Fineman: “Obama misread his mandate. … Obama misread the clock. … Obama misread his surroundings.” And most of all, the mainstream media misread him.

Other than “delusional,” how would you describe this? “White House senior adviser David Axelrod said Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press that he thinks voters will eventually warm to health care reform.”

Other than the Obami, who likes ObamaCare? “Many Democrats have joined Republicans in pushing for the repeal of a tax provision in the new health care law that imposes a huge information-reporting burden on small businesses.” And that’s the New York Times reporting.

Other than Larry King, who has the good sense to retire, is there a worse interviewer than Christiane Amanpour? Not a single tough follow-up question in her chat with Imam Abdul Rauf, no queries about his funding for the Ground Zero mosque, and no questions about his statements blaming the U.S. for 9/11. ABC execs who thought putting her in the host’s chair was a great idea should be embarrassed.

Other than keeping the current line-up, what personnel decision would be a loser? “There are indications that Obama plans to replace Emanuel with a loyalist. Among the names being floated is Valerie Jarrett, whose sole qualification for having a White House job is that she is a long-time Obama friend. In one of the most hilariously revealing utterances of the Obama presidency, Jarrett stated that the White House was ‘speaking truth to power’ by castigating Fox News. To make Jarrett chief of staff would be disastrous.”

Other than this, the recovery is going swell: “President Obama’s new chairman of the Council of Economic Affairs (CEA) said Sunday that the national unemployment rate will not decrease significantly anytime soon.”

Other than losing independents, turning off his base, and energizing conservatives, Obama has been great for his party. “Obama voters evince little interest in the midterm election. When they express goodwill toward the president, it rarely extends to his allies in Congress. Many do not consider themselves Democrats. Pew’s survey experts routinely ask respondents to characterize the president in a single word. In their most recent poll, conducted this summer, more respondents than ever answered with the word ‘disappointing.’ Some who threw their lot in with Obama expressed a sense of being let down by the man who promised change and pledged to transform the country. Some attributed that to their own lofty expectations and, perhaps, their naivete. Others pointed to what they saw as his lack of focus on the still-faltering economy.” These were people who voted for him in 2008.

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The False Meme

It is as predictable as it is ineffective — the liberal media’s attempts to sow discord between mainstream Republicans and Tea Partiers. The latest from the New York Times declares that Marco Rubio is veering from the “Tea Party script.” Has he changed his views on the stimulus? Gone soft on the Bush tax cuts? Renounced the Tea Party focus on the gallons of red ink spilled by the Obami? Uh, no. The sum total of the veering is:

Mr. Rubio spends less and less time trying to tap into the discontent that has been at the forefront of the midterm elections. A wiser course for Republicans, he said, is offering an alternative, not simply being the angry opposition.

Um, that’s not really veering off the Tea Party script, is it? No. And in fact, this sounds exactly like what the Tea Partiers are looking for:

“I am not running for the United States Senate because I want to be the opposition to Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid,” he replied in a measured tone [at a campaign stop]. “I’m running for Senate because I want to create an alternative.”

At each stop, Mr. Rubio speaks of the urgency to restore “American exceptionalism,” which he says is slipping away under Democratic control. He said that the private sector had been stymied by uncertainty under the Obama administration and that the health care law should be repealed.

He doesn’t agree with meddling with the 14th Amendment, but immigration has never been the core message of the fiscally minded Tea Party movement. And that’s it.

The headline and premise of the article are simply false. Rubio embraces the entirety of the Tea Party message — he, too, wants to “refudiate” Obama. But in desperate times, any old argument will do for the Gray Lady to calm its readers’ frayed nerves.

It is as predictable as it is ineffective — the liberal media’s attempts to sow discord between mainstream Republicans and Tea Partiers. The latest from the New York Times declares that Marco Rubio is veering from the “Tea Party script.” Has he changed his views on the stimulus? Gone soft on the Bush tax cuts? Renounced the Tea Party focus on the gallons of red ink spilled by the Obami? Uh, no. The sum total of the veering is:

Mr. Rubio spends less and less time trying to tap into the discontent that has been at the forefront of the midterm elections. A wiser course for Republicans, he said, is offering an alternative, not simply being the angry opposition.

Um, that’s not really veering off the Tea Party script, is it? No. And in fact, this sounds exactly like what the Tea Partiers are looking for:

“I am not running for the United States Senate because I want to be the opposition to Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid,” he replied in a measured tone [at a campaign stop]. “I’m running for Senate because I want to create an alternative.”

At each stop, Mr. Rubio speaks of the urgency to restore “American exceptionalism,” which he says is slipping away under Democratic control. He said that the private sector had been stymied by uncertainty under the Obama administration and that the health care law should be repealed.

He doesn’t agree with meddling with the 14th Amendment, but immigration has never been the core message of the fiscally minded Tea Party movement. And that’s it.

The headline and premise of the article are simply false. Rubio embraces the entirety of the Tea Party message — he, too, wants to “refudiate” Obama. But in desperate times, any old argument will do for the Gray Lady to calm its readers’ frayed nerves.

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The New Republic’s Keith Olbermann

In a story in the Washington Examiner, Stephen Hess, an expert on the presidency at the Brookings Institution, said Robert Gibbs’ remarks attacking the “professional left” shows how “unprepared” many in the Obama administration were for the rigors of the White House. “A lot of things had come too easy for them — a substantial election victory, and an almost messianic moment with the inauguration,” Hess said. “Governing is hard.”

The governing-is-hard theme is something some of us warned about a long time ago. And charting some of Obama’s early missteps caused commentators on the left, such as the New Republic’s Jonathan Chait, enormous irritation. In May 2009 he wrote:

In anticipation of his prophesy coming true, [Wehner’s] blogging for Commentary has become a gleeful chronicle of Obama’s imagined descent into dysfunction and popular repudiation.

Well, now. The “imagined descent” into popular repudiation (and dysfunction, for that matter) is no longer imagined, is it?

Popular repudiation is precisely what Obama and Democrats are experiencing on a scale that is extremely rare — one the may prove to be unprecedented — for a president who has been in office for less than two years.

William Galston, who served in the Clinton administration, has warned his party that it might not only lose the House; its majority in the Senate is endangered, too. And the polarization some of us highlighted early on in Obama’s presidency was in fact on the mark. Chait dismissed the observation at the time, but then came (for Chait) a rather unfortunate Gallup survey released in January 2010, which reported that Barack Obama was the most polarizing first-year president in recorded history.

Now we should keep in mind that Chait is the same individual who, in December 2008, assured his readers that “undiluted liberalism” in the area of health care was hugely popular and that the path to political dominance for Obama and Democrats; and who, in February 2007, wrote that there was “something genuinely bizarre” about those Americans who supported President Bush’s surge strategy in Iraq. “It is not just that they are wrong,” our modern-day Metternich insisted. “It’s that they are completely detached from reality.”

Such detached-from-reality insights continue apace. Earlier this year, for example, Chait wrote:

The perception has formed, perhaps indelibly, that the reason Democrats will get hammered in the 2010 elections is that the party moved too far left in general and tried to reform health care in particular. This perception owes itself, above all, to the habit that political analysts in the media and other outposts of mainstream thought have of ignoring structural factors.

Of course; health-care reform has nothing to do with Obama’s plight or that of the Democratic Party. So sayeth The Great Chait.

Never mind that Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, analyzes the empirical data and declares that “the health overhaul remains a political loser in most of the country.” Or that Democratic pollster Doug Schoen writes that “recent polling shows that the [health care] bill has been a disaster for the party. … There may well be no single initiative as unpopular as the administration’s health care reform bill.” Or that Charlie Cook, who specializes in election forecasts and political trends, declared earlier this year that from a political perspective, pushing health care was a “colossal miscalculation.” Yet Chait – who doesn’t specialize in election forecasts or political trends – knows better.

And what should we make of the fact that by nearly a 3-to-1 margin, voters in Missouri voters rejected a key provision of President Obama’s health-care law? Easy. “Missouri is not a ‘bellwether’ state right now,” Chait cheerfully informs us. Missouri, you see, has suddenly become Utah. And the individual mandate never was popular, don’t you know?

Chait has been reduced to arguing (ad nauseam) that Obama’s unpopularity has virtually nothing to do with Obama’s policies or his liberal ideology; it has to do with the very bad economy and those darn “structural factors.” Barack Obama is a fantastic president, you see; it’s just too bad the conditions in the country are miserable.

Jonathan has become something of an amusing read. It is not simply watching him try to twist reality to fit his ideological presuppositions, which is amusing enough; it is the whole packaged deal – the adolescent rage, exemplified in his “I hate Bush” rant, the playground taunts, the pretense of governing and policy expertise.

And there is the matter of Chait’s slightly peculiar personal obsessions. For example, he admits that one of his “guilty pleasures” is a “morbid fascination” with me and that one of his “shameful hobbies” is watching the “almost sensual pleasure” taken by me at the coming November elections – with the latter written under the headline “Wehner Throbs with Anticipation.” Now this doesn’t particularly bother me, but perhaps it should bother Mrs. Chait.

The New Republic was once the professional home to some of the nation’s preeminent intellectuals, public figures, and journalists. Today it provides a perch to Jonathan Chait, TNR’s version of Keith Olbermann

In a story in the Washington Examiner, Stephen Hess, an expert on the presidency at the Brookings Institution, said Robert Gibbs’ remarks attacking the “professional left” shows how “unprepared” many in the Obama administration were for the rigors of the White House. “A lot of things had come too easy for them — a substantial election victory, and an almost messianic moment with the inauguration,” Hess said. “Governing is hard.”

The governing-is-hard theme is something some of us warned about a long time ago. And charting some of Obama’s early missteps caused commentators on the left, such as the New Republic’s Jonathan Chait, enormous irritation. In May 2009 he wrote:

In anticipation of his prophesy coming true, [Wehner’s] blogging for Commentary has become a gleeful chronicle of Obama’s imagined descent into dysfunction and popular repudiation.

Well, now. The “imagined descent” into popular repudiation (and dysfunction, for that matter) is no longer imagined, is it?

Popular repudiation is precisely what Obama and Democrats are experiencing on a scale that is extremely rare — one the may prove to be unprecedented — for a president who has been in office for less than two years.

William Galston, who served in the Clinton administration, has warned his party that it might not only lose the House; its majority in the Senate is endangered, too. And the polarization some of us highlighted early on in Obama’s presidency was in fact on the mark. Chait dismissed the observation at the time, but then came (for Chait) a rather unfortunate Gallup survey released in January 2010, which reported that Barack Obama was the most polarizing first-year president in recorded history.

Now we should keep in mind that Chait is the same individual who, in December 2008, assured his readers that “undiluted liberalism” in the area of health care was hugely popular and that the path to political dominance for Obama and Democrats; and who, in February 2007, wrote that there was “something genuinely bizarre” about those Americans who supported President Bush’s surge strategy in Iraq. “It is not just that they are wrong,” our modern-day Metternich insisted. “It’s that they are completely detached from reality.”

Such detached-from-reality insights continue apace. Earlier this year, for example, Chait wrote:

The perception has formed, perhaps indelibly, that the reason Democrats will get hammered in the 2010 elections is that the party moved too far left in general and tried to reform health care in particular. This perception owes itself, above all, to the habit that political analysts in the media and other outposts of mainstream thought have of ignoring structural factors.

Of course; health-care reform has nothing to do with Obama’s plight or that of the Democratic Party. So sayeth The Great Chait.

Never mind that Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, analyzes the empirical data and declares that “the health overhaul remains a political loser in most of the country.” Or that Democratic pollster Doug Schoen writes that “recent polling shows that the [health care] bill has been a disaster for the party. … There may well be no single initiative as unpopular as the administration’s health care reform bill.” Or that Charlie Cook, who specializes in election forecasts and political trends, declared earlier this year that from a political perspective, pushing health care was a “colossal miscalculation.” Yet Chait – who doesn’t specialize in election forecasts or political trends – knows better.

And what should we make of the fact that by nearly a 3-to-1 margin, voters in Missouri voters rejected a key provision of President Obama’s health-care law? Easy. “Missouri is not a ‘bellwether’ state right now,” Chait cheerfully informs us. Missouri, you see, has suddenly become Utah. And the individual mandate never was popular, don’t you know?

Chait has been reduced to arguing (ad nauseam) that Obama’s unpopularity has virtually nothing to do with Obama’s policies or his liberal ideology; it has to do with the very bad economy and those darn “structural factors.” Barack Obama is a fantastic president, you see; it’s just too bad the conditions in the country are miserable.

Jonathan has become something of an amusing read. It is not simply watching him try to twist reality to fit his ideological presuppositions, which is amusing enough; it is the whole packaged deal – the adolescent rage, exemplified in his “I hate Bush” rant, the playground taunts, the pretense of governing and policy expertise.

And there is the matter of Chait’s slightly peculiar personal obsessions. For example, he admits that one of his “guilty pleasures” is a “morbid fascination” with me and that one of his “shameful hobbies” is watching the “almost sensual pleasure” taken by me at the coming November elections – with the latter written under the headline “Wehner Throbs with Anticipation.” Now this doesn’t particularly bother me, but perhaps it should bother Mrs. Chait.

The New Republic was once the professional home to some of the nation’s preeminent intellectuals, public figures, and journalists. Today it provides a perch to Jonathan Chait, TNR’s version of Keith Olbermann

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ObamaCare, Missouri, and the Coming Inflection Point

What happened in Missouri yesterday is quite remarkable. By nearly a 3-to-1 margin, voters rejected a key provision of President Obama’s health-care law. More than 70 percent of Missouri voters backed a ballot measure, Proposition C, that would prohibit the government from requiring people to have health insurance or from penalizing them for not having it.

“It is likely to give Republicans a chance to brag about the unpopularity of ObamaCare,” Karen Ball of Time reports, “but the vote will be largely symbolic.” (Courts will decide whether Missouri and other states can legally trump federal law and exempt citizens from the mandate to buy insurance.)

Symbolic is one way to describe Tuesday’s vote; ominous (for the Democrats) is another.

This is yet one more electoral manifestation of the dismal polling numbers the Democrats have been facing for many months now. We saw rising popular opposition to ObamaCare throughout last summer, which many liberals ignored or ridiculed. Then came the gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey and the Senate election Massachusetts. Since then the opposition to ObamaCare specifically, and to Obama more generally, has increased; as a result we saw the 40-plus point trouncing in Missouri, a margin far higher than most people anticipated.

It is hard to overstate the toxicity of the Obama agenda. Losing a net total of 65 or more Democratic House seats is now possible (if not yet likely). We are less than 100 days away from what looks to be an inflection point, one of those rare mid-term elections that alter the trajectory of American politics.

What happened in Missouri yesterday is quite remarkable. By nearly a 3-to-1 margin, voters rejected a key provision of President Obama’s health-care law. More than 70 percent of Missouri voters backed a ballot measure, Proposition C, that would prohibit the government from requiring people to have health insurance or from penalizing them for not having it.

“It is likely to give Republicans a chance to brag about the unpopularity of ObamaCare,” Karen Ball of Time reports, “but the vote will be largely symbolic.” (Courts will decide whether Missouri and other states can legally trump federal law and exempt citizens from the mandate to buy insurance.)

Symbolic is one way to describe Tuesday’s vote; ominous (for the Democrats) is another.

This is yet one more electoral manifestation of the dismal polling numbers the Democrats have been facing for many months now. We saw rising popular opposition to ObamaCare throughout last summer, which many liberals ignored or ridiculed. Then came the gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey and the Senate election Massachusetts. Since then the opposition to ObamaCare specifically, and to Obama more generally, has increased; as a result we saw the 40-plus point trouncing in Missouri, a margin far higher than most people anticipated.

It is hard to overstate the toxicity of the Obama agenda. Losing a net total of 65 or more Democratic House seats is now possible (if not yet likely). We are less than 100 days away from what looks to be an inflection point, one of those rare mid-term elections that alter the trajectory of American politics.

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The Incredibly Unpopular Individual Mandate

It doesn’t have the force of law, but this is a telling rebuke of the president:

Missouri voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a key provision of President Barack Obama’s health care law, sending a clear message of discontent to Washington and Democrats less than 100 days before the midterm elections.

With about 70 percent of the vote counted late Tuesday, nearly three-quarters of voters threw their support behind a ballot measure, Proposition C, that would prohibit the government from requiring people to have health insurance or from penalizing them for not having it. … Tuesday’s vote was seen as largely symbolic because federal law generally trumps state law. But it was also seen as a sign of growing voter disillusionment with federal policies and a show of strength by conservatives and the tea party movement.

Three-quarters? It is astounding, really, in a country divided bitterly over so many things that the most popular and unifying issue may be repeal of ObamaCare’s central feature. Other states have or will pass similar measures. Will all this magically disappear by 2012, or will the Republican nominee — whoever he or she may be (and it won’t be Mitt Romney if he doesn’t get on board) — have a huge, broad coalition of support for ripping out Obama’s “historic achievement”?

The individual mandate is for many on the left (Don’t force me to buy a plan from Big Insurance!) and the right (Don’t force me to buy what I don’t want!) a sore point, a reminder of Obama’s statist-corporatist agenda. We are now seeing just how many Americans across the political spectrum want it abolished before it goes into effect. It’s almost like “Repeal and Reform!” could be a popular campaign slogan.

It doesn’t have the force of law, but this is a telling rebuke of the president:

Missouri voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a key provision of President Barack Obama’s health care law, sending a clear message of discontent to Washington and Democrats less than 100 days before the midterm elections.

With about 70 percent of the vote counted late Tuesday, nearly three-quarters of voters threw their support behind a ballot measure, Proposition C, that would prohibit the government from requiring people to have health insurance or from penalizing them for not having it. … Tuesday’s vote was seen as largely symbolic because federal law generally trumps state law. But it was also seen as a sign of growing voter disillusionment with federal policies and a show of strength by conservatives and the tea party movement.

Three-quarters? It is astounding, really, in a country divided bitterly over so many things that the most popular and unifying issue may be repeal of ObamaCare’s central feature. Other states have or will pass similar measures. Will all this magically disappear by 2012, or will the Republican nominee — whoever he or she may be (and it won’t be Mitt Romney if he doesn’t get on board) — have a huge, broad coalition of support for ripping out Obama’s “historic achievement”?

The individual mandate is for many on the left (Don’t force me to buy a plan from Big Insurance!) and the right (Don’t force me to buy what I don’t want!) a sore point, a reminder of Obama’s statist-corporatist agenda. We are now seeing just how many Americans across the political spectrum want it abolished before it goes into effect. It’s almost like “Repeal and Reform!” could be a popular campaign slogan.

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Misinformation, Disinformation, and ObamaCare

In a recent story in the New York Times, we learned this:

When Congress required most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, Democrats denied that they were creating a new tax. But in court, the Obama administration and its allies now defend the requirement as an exercise of the government’s “power to lay and collect taxes.”

And that power, they say, is even more sweeping than the federal power to regulate interstate commerce.

Administration officials say the tax argument is a linchpin of their legal case in defense of the health care overhaul and its individual mandate, now being challenged in court by more than 20 states and several private organizations.

The story goes on to explain that under the legislation signed by President Obama in March, most Americans will have to maintain “minimum essential coverage” starting in 2014. In a brief defending the law, the Justice Department says the requirement for people to carry insurance or pay the penalty is “a valid exercise” of Congress’s power to impose taxes.

DOJ argues that the penalty is a tax because it will raise substantial revenue: $4 billion a year by 2017, according to the Congressional Budget Office. And according to the Times, the penalty is imposed and collected under the Internal Revenue Code, and people must report it on their tax returns “as an addition to income tax liability.” Because the penalty is a tax, the department says, no one can challenge it in court before paying it and seeking a refund.

Well, well, well, this does pose a problem for our president, doesn’t it?

In addition to being yet one more violation of his pledge not to tax families making less than $250,000, Obama, during the health-care debate, insisted that a mandate to buy insurance, enforced by financial penalties, was not a tax.

In an exchange with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos last September (h/t Ed Morrisey), Stephanopoulos pressed Obama on admitting that what he was advocating was a tax increase. “For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase,” Obama assured us. Elsewhere in the interview, Obama said, “George, you — you can’t just make up that language and decide that that’s called a tax increase.” And when Stephanopoulos read the definition of a tax increase from Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, Obama came back with this condescending and foolish response:

George, the fact that you looked up Merriam’s Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition.

It turns out the truth is exactly the opposite of what Obama said. Jack M. Balkin, a professor at Yale Law School who supports the new health-care law, stated the obvious at a meeting last month: “[Mr. Obama] has not been honest with the American people about the nature of this bill. This bill is a tax.”

This is just one example of a systematic pattern of misinformation and disinformation related to the health-care campaign. We have seen similarly dishonest claims related to funding abortion (ObamaCare is doing exactly that), bending the cost curve down (it will bend it up), lowering premiums (they will rise), and to allowing Americans to keep the coverage they currently have (many won’t).

In many respects, the Obama administration has shown itself to be thoroughly postmodern; words have no objective meaning. Reality can be molded to the whims of the most powerful. We can each construct our own narrative.

In the case of the president, the narrative is fairly simply: whatever advances his own aims and objectives is defensible. The ends justify the means. If false claims have to be used to advance a larger truth, so be it.

This attitude pervades the Obama administration and appears to be especially concentrated in the chief executive. He thinks he can get away with almost anything, including the corruption of language. He can’t, and if he isn’t careful, this kind of distortion of truth and reality is going to cost him a very great deal.

In a recent story in the New York Times, we learned this:

When Congress required most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, Democrats denied that they were creating a new tax. But in court, the Obama administration and its allies now defend the requirement as an exercise of the government’s “power to lay and collect taxes.”

And that power, they say, is even more sweeping than the federal power to regulate interstate commerce.

Administration officials say the tax argument is a linchpin of their legal case in defense of the health care overhaul and its individual mandate, now being challenged in court by more than 20 states and several private organizations.

The story goes on to explain that under the legislation signed by President Obama in March, most Americans will have to maintain “minimum essential coverage” starting in 2014. In a brief defending the law, the Justice Department says the requirement for people to carry insurance or pay the penalty is “a valid exercise” of Congress’s power to impose taxes.

DOJ argues that the penalty is a tax because it will raise substantial revenue: $4 billion a year by 2017, according to the Congressional Budget Office. And according to the Times, the penalty is imposed and collected under the Internal Revenue Code, and people must report it on their tax returns “as an addition to income tax liability.” Because the penalty is a tax, the department says, no one can challenge it in court before paying it and seeking a refund.

Well, well, well, this does pose a problem for our president, doesn’t it?

In addition to being yet one more violation of his pledge not to tax families making less than $250,000, Obama, during the health-care debate, insisted that a mandate to buy insurance, enforced by financial penalties, was not a tax.

In an exchange with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos last September (h/t Ed Morrisey), Stephanopoulos pressed Obama on admitting that what he was advocating was a tax increase. “For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase,” Obama assured us. Elsewhere in the interview, Obama said, “George, you — you can’t just make up that language and decide that that’s called a tax increase.” And when Stephanopoulos read the definition of a tax increase from Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, Obama came back with this condescending and foolish response:

George, the fact that you looked up Merriam’s Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition.

It turns out the truth is exactly the opposite of what Obama said. Jack M. Balkin, a professor at Yale Law School who supports the new health-care law, stated the obvious at a meeting last month: “[Mr. Obama] has not been honest with the American people about the nature of this bill. This bill is a tax.”

This is just one example of a systematic pattern of misinformation and disinformation related to the health-care campaign. We have seen similarly dishonest claims related to funding abortion (ObamaCare is doing exactly that), bending the cost curve down (it will bend it up), lowering premiums (they will rise), and to allowing Americans to keep the coverage they currently have (many won’t).

In many respects, the Obama administration has shown itself to be thoroughly postmodern; words have no objective meaning. Reality can be molded to the whims of the most powerful. We can each construct our own narrative.

In the case of the president, the narrative is fairly simply: whatever advances his own aims and objectives is defensible. The ends justify the means. If false claims have to be used to advance a larger truth, so be it.

This attitude pervades the Obama administration and appears to be especially concentrated in the chief executive. He thinks he can get away with almost anything, including the corruption of language. He can’t, and if he isn’t careful, this kind of distortion of truth and reality is going to cost him a very great deal.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Obama may not be good for America, but he’s been a gold mine for conservative humor.

You will keep your insurance and your doctor! Remember that promise from Obama? Apparently, he was just kidding: “As the Obama administration begins to enact the new national health care law, the country’s biggest insurers are promoting affordable plans with reduced premiums that require participants to use a narrower selection of doctors or hospitals.” We did try this before back in the “H.M.O. days,” but “[t]he concept was largely abandoned after the consumer backlash persuaded both employers and health plans that Americans were simply not willing to sacrifice choice.” I’m sure it’ll be totally different this time.

I don’t think Dan Balz meant to be funny. But this certainly is: “White House and House officials see a path for holding the House, unless the wave of reaction against the president’s policies and unrest over the economy swamps even the smartest and best prepared of embattled incumbents — which is what happened in 1994.” Yeah, like what are the chances of that?

No joke — for a mere $30,400, you can attend a Democratic Senate Campaign Committee fundraising retreat. Do you think they throw in free breakfasts? But Obama assures us that the Republicans are the party of the rich.

Many Virginians are giddy over the prospect of privatizing state liquor stores: “For the drinking-age public, a privatized system could mean many more liquor stores, a much wider variety of libations and lower prices. Like beer and wine, liquor could be sold in grocery stores, big-box stores such as Wal-Mart or anywhere else a licensed dealer chooses to locate. … For the state’s ailing transportation network, it would mean a jolt of fresh cash that [Gov. Bob] McDonnell (R) urgently needs as part of his plan to fix roads. … And for McDonnell, who opposes government-run liquor stores on free-market principles, bringing Democrats and Republicans together on a major issue would show that he can deliver on his promises and be the kind of bipartisan leader he has pledged to be.” Naturally, many Democrats oppose the plan.

This is no laughing matter: “Canadians may have achieved what Americans still long for, a turn up in the national mood, and a job machine that hums. In fact, Canada’s job creation engine is on a tear, last month producing 10,000 more jobs than the U.S. This despite having a population and stimulus program roughly one-tenth the size of the U.S. … ‘Canada is coming back better than the U.S.,’ says labor economist Alan Blinder of Princeton University. ‘I’m losing a bit of the confidence I previously had.’” In the Obama era, it doesn’t pay to be a starry-eyed optimist.

This advice from Matthew Dowd probably sounds silly to the Obami: “[T]he administration should get off the partisan campaign trail (when your job-approval rating is in the 40s, being there isn’t helping anyone anyway), focus on what the president can do to change the tone in Washington and begin to speak to his own mistakes in adding to the political fighting.” Right advice, wrong president.

Hysterical: From one of the Beagle Blogger’s minions: “Can anyone think of other times of where one side of a debate projects their own preferences upon their opponents?” I would think reading his own blog would be part of the job.

Obama may not be good for America, but he’s been a gold mine for conservative humor.

You will keep your insurance and your doctor! Remember that promise from Obama? Apparently, he was just kidding: “As the Obama administration begins to enact the new national health care law, the country’s biggest insurers are promoting affordable plans with reduced premiums that require participants to use a narrower selection of doctors or hospitals.” We did try this before back in the “H.M.O. days,” but “[t]he concept was largely abandoned after the consumer backlash persuaded both employers and health plans that Americans were simply not willing to sacrifice choice.” I’m sure it’ll be totally different this time.

I don’t think Dan Balz meant to be funny. But this certainly is: “White House and House officials see a path for holding the House, unless the wave of reaction against the president’s policies and unrest over the economy swamps even the smartest and best prepared of embattled incumbents — which is what happened in 1994.” Yeah, like what are the chances of that?

No joke — for a mere $30,400, you can attend a Democratic Senate Campaign Committee fundraising retreat. Do you think they throw in free breakfasts? But Obama assures us that the Republicans are the party of the rich.

Many Virginians are giddy over the prospect of privatizing state liquor stores: “For the drinking-age public, a privatized system could mean many more liquor stores, a much wider variety of libations and lower prices. Like beer and wine, liquor could be sold in grocery stores, big-box stores such as Wal-Mart or anywhere else a licensed dealer chooses to locate. … For the state’s ailing transportation network, it would mean a jolt of fresh cash that [Gov. Bob] McDonnell (R) urgently needs as part of his plan to fix roads. … And for McDonnell, who opposes government-run liquor stores on free-market principles, bringing Democrats and Republicans together on a major issue would show that he can deliver on his promises and be the kind of bipartisan leader he has pledged to be.” Naturally, many Democrats oppose the plan.

This is no laughing matter: “Canadians may have achieved what Americans still long for, a turn up in the national mood, and a job machine that hums. In fact, Canada’s job creation engine is on a tear, last month producing 10,000 more jobs than the U.S. This despite having a population and stimulus program roughly one-tenth the size of the U.S. … ‘Canada is coming back better than the U.S.,’ says labor economist Alan Blinder of Princeton University. ‘I’m losing a bit of the confidence I previously had.’” In the Obama era, it doesn’t pay to be a starry-eyed optimist.

This advice from Matthew Dowd probably sounds silly to the Obami: “[T]he administration should get off the partisan campaign trail (when your job-approval rating is in the 40s, being there isn’t helping anyone anyway), focus on what the president can do to change the tone in Washington and begin to speak to his own mistakes in adding to the political fighting.” Right advice, wrong president.

Hysterical: From one of the Beagle Blogger’s minions: “Can anyone think of other times of where one side of a debate projects their own preferences upon their opponents?” I would think reading his own blog would be part of the job.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Did Obama mention this in Cairo? “A group of young Saudi men have launched a campaign to convince Saudi men of the unappreciated virtues of polygamy.  It is a response to young Saudi women uninterested in joining a polygamous marriage, older Saudi women divorcees and Saudi men unable or unwilling to support more than one woman. The campaign seeks to counter what Saudi traditionalists see as an increasingly negative stigma attached to polygamy.”

Did Democratic lawmakers actually buy the notion that the American people would learn to love ObamaCare? “Almost four months after the passage of major health care legislation, the law remains unpopular with the public. Nearly half of Americans (47%) disapprove of the health care law while just 35% approve of the measure. An overwhelming proportion of opponents of health care legislation — 37% of the public overall — favor repealing the legislation as soon as possible. Just 7% say they want to let the law stand and see how it works. Public opinion toward health care legislation remained very stable in the months leading up to the bill’s passage, and that has continued to be the case.” That miscalculation will likely end more than a few political careers.

Did you expect anything else? “South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is sending strong signals that he may again buck his party and become the lone GOP senator on the Judiciary Committee to vote for Elena Kagan to be confirmed to the Supreme Court.”

Did Gen. Stanley McChrystal do us all a big favor? Gallup reports: “[Gen. David Petraeus] takes his new job as commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan with a remarkably positive image among Americans who know who he is. At the same time, Petraeus now faces the additional challenge of commanding a mission that the majority of Americans say is going badly. Americans’ views of the situation in Iraq improved during and after Petraeus’ tenure as commander in that country. The degree to which Petraeus will be able to shift Americans’ perceptions of the war in Afghanistan in similar fashion will have important consequences in many arenas, including the politics of the war in the U.S.”

Did you think in November 2008 that Barbara Boxer would now be in a toss-up race?

Did he check with Robert Gibbs? “House Majority Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) became the latest Democratic leader to voice confidence that the party will hold its majority in the House this fall.”

Did Robert Reich ever sound so smart? “Democrats have been almost as reluctant to attack inequality or even to recognize it as the central economic and social problem of our age. … As money has risen to the top, so has political power. Politicians are more dependent than ever on big money for their campaigns. … Today’s cash comes in the form of ever increasing campaign donations from corporate executives and Wall Street, their ever larger platoons of lobbyists and their hordes of PR flacks.” Hence, the “major fault line in American politics is no longer between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, but between the ‘establishment’ and an increasingly mad-as-hell populace determined to ‘take back America’ from it.”

Did Obama mention this in Cairo? “A group of young Saudi men have launched a campaign to convince Saudi men of the unappreciated virtues of polygamy.  It is a response to young Saudi women uninterested in joining a polygamous marriage, older Saudi women divorcees and Saudi men unable or unwilling to support more than one woman. The campaign seeks to counter what Saudi traditionalists see as an increasingly negative stigma attached to polygamy.”

Did Democratic lawmakers actually buy the notion that the American people would learn to love ObamaCare? “Almost four months after the passage of major health care legislation, the law remains unpopular with the public. Nearly half of Americans (47%) disapprove of the health care law while just 35% approve of the measure. An overwhelming proportion of opponents of health care legislation — 37% of the public overall — favor repealing the legislation as soon as possible. Just 7% say they want to let the law stand and see how it works. Public opinion toward health care legislation remained very stable in the months leading up to the bill’s passage, and that has continued to be the case.” That miscalculation will likely end more than a few political careers.

Did you expect anything else? “South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is sending strong signals that he may again buck his party and become the lone GOP senator on the Judiciary Committee to vote for Elena Kagan to be confirmed to the Supreme Court.”

Did Gen. Stanley McChrystal do us all a big favor? Gallup reports: “[Gen. David Petraeus] takes his new job as commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan with a remarkably positive image among Americans who know who he is. At the same time, Petraeus now faces the additional challenge of commanding a mission that the majority of Americans say is going badly. Americans’ views of the situation in Iraq improved during and after Petraeus’ tenure as commander in that country. The degree to which Petraeus will be able to shift Americans’ perceptions of the war in Afghanistan in similar fashion will have important consequences in many arenas, including the politics of the war in the U.S.”

Did you think in November 2008 that Barbara Boxer would now be in a toss-up race?

Did he check with Robert Gibbs? “House Majority Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) became the latest Democratic leader to voice confidence that the party will hold its majority in the House this fall.”

Did Robert Reich ever sound so smart? “Democrats have been almost as reluctant to attack inequality or even to recognize it as the central economic and social problem of our age. … As money has risen to the top, so has political power. Politicians are more dependent than ever on big money for their campaigns. … Today’s cash comes in the form of ever increasing campaign donations from corporate executives and Wall Street, their ever larger platoons of lobbyists and their hordes of PR flacks.” Hence, the “major fault line in American politics is no longer between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, but between the ‘establishment’ and an increasingly mad-as-hell populace determined to ‘take back America’ from it.”

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

So much for honoring America’s commitments: “As Israel’s prime minister prepares for his fifth official meeting with President Obama this week, the White House has declined to publicly affirm commitments made by President Bush to Israel in 2004 on the final borders of the Jewish state.”

So much for walking back the Afghanistan troop-withdrawal deadline. Joe Biden says, “This is the policy.”

So much for the Democratic 2010 strategy. Chis Cillizza writes: “the Democratic National Committee has committed to spending tens of millions of dollars to re-create (or come somewhere near re-creating) the 2008 election model, in which Democrats relied heavily on higher-than-normal turnout from young people and strong support from African American and Hispanic voters. The DNC’s plan is ambitious, to say the least: In the space of a few months, the strategists hope to change the composition of a midterm electorate that, if history is any guide, tends to be older and whiter than in a presidential-election year. Put that way, it sounds crazy — and it has drawn considerable skepticism from independent observers.”

So much for Obama’s salesmanship: “Sixty percent (60%) of voters nationwide favor repeal of the recently passed health care law, including 49% who Strongly Favor repeal. … This is the 16th weekly poll conducted on repeal since the health care law was passed. A majority of voters has favored repeal each and every week. Support for repeal has ranged from a low of 52% to a high of 63%.”

So much for the “permanent” Democratic majority. Charlie Cook writes: “Among all voters, there has been a significant swing since 2008 when Democrats took their new majority won in 2006 to an even higher level. But when you home in on those people in this survey who are most likely to vote, the numbers are devastating. … Make no mistake about it: There is a wave out there, and for Democrats, the House is, at best, teetering on the edge. To be sure, things could change in the four months between now and November 2. … Still, the potential is here for a result that is proportional to some of the bigger postwar midterm wave elections.”

So much for Obama’s Syrian engagement. The headline reads, “Assad: US administration is weak.” Well, he’s a brutal despot, but he’s not a bad political analyst.

So much for Obamanomics: “Just when they might be needed the most, the rescue ropes that hauled the nation out of the Great Recession have become badly frayed. A much-feared ‘double dip’ economic downturn would find interest rates already slashed to near zero by the Federal Reserve and lawmakers leery of voting for billions of stimulus dollars as they face re-election.”

So much for the prospects of a two-state solution. Barry Rubin: “Why should Israel give up territory and security to the PA merely because it prosecutes corrupt leaders (don’t hold your breath) and is more prosperous? What it needs to know is that the conflict won’t continue, that there won’t be cross-border raids, that Hamas won’t take over and that Palestine won’t invite in Syrian or Iranian military forces, to cite some examples.” And other than the deluded Obami, who really thinks that is happening any time soon?

So much for the notion that Fareed Zakaria is to be taken seriously (even by the Obama administration): “Fareed Zakaria criticized the Afghanistan war in unusually harsh terms on his CNN program Sunday, saying that ‘the whole enterprise in Afghanistan feels disproportionate, a very expensive solution to what is turning out to be a small but real problem.’”

So much for honoring America’s commitments: “As Israel’s prime minister prepares for his fifth official meeting with President Obama this week, the White House has declined to publicly affirm commitments made by President Bush to Israel in 2004 on the final borders of the Jewish state.”

So much for walking back the Afghanistan troop-withdrawal deadline. Joe Biden says, “This is the policy.”

So much for the Democratic 2010 strategy. Chis Cillizza writes: “the Democratic National Committee has committed to spending tens of millions of dollars to re-create (or come somewhere near re-creating) the 2008 election model, in which Democrats relied heavily on higher-than-normal turnout from young people and strong support from African American and Hispanic voters. The DNC’s plan is ambitious, to say the least: In the space of a few months, the strategists hope to change the composition of a midterm electorate that, if history is any guide, tends to be older and whiter than in a presidential-election year. Put that way, it sounds crazy — and it has drawn considerable skepticism from independent observers.”

So much for Obama’s salesmanship: “Sixty percent (60%) of voters nationwide favor repeal of the recently passed health care law, including 49% who Strongly Favor repeal. … This is the 16th weekly poll conducted on repeal since the health care law was passed. A majority of voters has favored repeal each and every week. Support for repeal has ranged from a low of 52% to a high of 63%.”

So much for the “permanent” Democratic majority. Charlie Cook writes: “Among all voters, there has been a significant swing since 2008 when Democrats took their new majority won in 2006 to an even higher level. But when you home in on those people in this survey who are most likely to vote, the numbers are devastating. … Make no mistake about it: There is a wave out there, and for Democrats, the House is, at best, teetering on the edge. To be sure, things could change in the four months between now and November 2. … Still, the potential is here for a result that is proportional to some of the bigger postwar midterm wave elections.”

So much for Obama’s Syrian engagement. The headline reads, “Assad: US administration is weak.” Well, he’s a brutal despot, but he’s not a bad political analyst.

So much for Obamanomics: “Just when they might be needed the most, the rescue ropes that hauled the nation out of the Great Recession have become badly frayed. A much-feared ‘double dip’ economic downturn would find interest rates already slashed to near zero by the Federal Reserve and lawmakers leery of voting for billions of stimulus dollars as they face re-election.”

So much for the prospects of a two-state solution. Barry Rubin: “Why should Israel give up territory and security to the PA merely because it prosecutes corrupt leaders (don’t hold your breath) and is more prosperous? What it needs to know is that the conflict won’t continue, that there won’t be cross-border raids, that Hamas won’t take over and that Palestine won’t invite in Syrian or Iranian military forces, to cite some examples.” And other than the deluded Obami, who really thinks that is happening any time soon?

So much for the notion that Fareed Zakaria is to be taken seriously (even by the Obama administration): “Fareed Zakaria criticized the Afghanistan war in unusually harsh terms on his CNN program Sunday, saying that ‘the whole enterprise in Afghanistan feels disproportionate, a very expensive solution to what is turning out to be a small but real problem.’”

Read Less




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