Insight. Antics.

Archive for July, 2009|Monthly archive page

Blue Dog Blues.

In Politics on July 29, 2009 at 6:34 pm

Blue from Blue's Clues

I have a bunch of friends who say they are Republicans because they are fiscally conservative, but don’t agree with the GOP on social issues.  Perhaps they should re-affiliate with the Blue Dogs, because that is precisely what they are: fiscally restrained, socially liberal.

These days being a Blue Dog is a big deal.  Suddenly, 15 years after their creation, they are the most influential part of the political spectrum.  As a coalition of what media outlets often label “moderate Democrats” in the House of Representatives, they are having a tremendous impact on what legislation comes to pass in Congress.  Chief among these is health care reform.  It’s not as simple as all Democrats jumping on board and voting in a bloc.  Only Republicans know how to do that.

As written in The Hill yesterday, “The fate of the House health care proposal rested in the hands of the Blue Dogs on Tuesday morning as the coalition review[s] the health care compromise offered Monday night by Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA.).”

Later in the day, Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN) said this speaking for Blue Dogs: “We’re not ready to support a bill yet. We’ll get there. We are going to pass a health care bill, whether it’s now or in the fall remains to be seen.”  Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) added, “I think there’s still a bit of daylight between the positions. I think the bottom line of Blue Dogs has not been met as of this time.”

Thus, today they have swayed party leaders to hold off on a full House vote until after the August recess.

Can they just get something done?  Why can’t they be more like Blue from Blue’s Clues?  Blue is so much more productive and upbeat.  Plus she solves mysteries. Read the rest of this entry »

Stress From The Press.

In Media, Politics on July 27, 2009 at 10:34 am

Healthcare Rally - Jose Luis Magana/ReutersThe most concrete takeaway from the healthcare tussle so far is that the media is not a rubber stamp nestled in Obama’s pocket.  He is facing a strong headwind now, and while it’s not hostile, it is highly skeptical.  Meredith Viera was in the man’s house, on a weekend if I’m not mistaken, prodding him for answers, a far cry from fellow Today “family member” Al Roker’s worshipful howling to him on Inauguration Day.

Emboldened, perhaps by several polls that have indicated lower approval ratings or by the realization that something may actually pass this time, the press is amping up the doubt.

Networks and newspapers of all stripes are mulling over every aspect of every outcome of this debate.  They have shown that it is quite easy to poke holes in something that doesn’t exist.  Instead of making a target out of the pieces of a specific proposal, every shot has hit this amorphous blob of legislation.

And why shouldn’t it?  People fear what they don’t know or don’t understand.  Anxiety and uncertainty breed ratings and readers.  Think back to how many people watched The Truman Show when it cut the transmission and went to static.  They got their best ratings ever! Read the rest of this entry »

Mo’ Governors, Mo’ Problems.

In Politics on July 17, 2009 at 5:29 pm

Mitt Romney at Republican Presidential Debate in Detroit on 10/9/07 - Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty ImagesAt times it seems we are more interested in who is going to be president, as opposed to who is president. It’s generally easier to craft into an enticing storyline by pitting oversimplified stereotypes against each other and manufacturing a horserace that rivals the Triple Crown. Except from now it will take 3 years for us to hear “…and down the stretch they come!”

Nonetheless, Gallup (pure equestrian coincidence) is on the case, supplying the early odds we need to fill out our betting cards for the Republican primary race at OTB, Off-Track Balloting. A handful of these would-be nominees have hurt their chances worse than Barbaro did out the front gate of the Preakness. (Rest in peace you classy Colt.)

Mark Sanford, international man of adultery, is dead in the water, joining domestic adulterer Senator (hey, how’d a Senator get in there?) John Ensign of Nevada who was outed for having an affair with a top staffer’s wife. Well, what is there to say? At least he didn’t outsource it? Or, he’s not as boring as Harry Reid? Read the rest of this entry »

Sestak Attacked!

In Politics on July 14, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Joe Sestak on Meet The Press on 3/18/07 - Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the PressRemember how I covered Congressman and former naval officer Joe Sestak talking about how he was considering running against Arlen Specter for Senate in Pennsylvania?  Well, Sestak hasn’t even officially declared his bid but Specter attacked him anyway!  And of all things… for not being a true-blue Democrat!  This is astounding in its irony and lack of forethought.  Here’s Specter’s opening salvo:

“Congressman Sestak is a flagrant hypocrite in challenging my being a real Democrat when he did not register as a Democrat until 2006 just in time to run for Congress.  His lame excuse for avoiding party affiliation, because he was in the service, is undercut by his documented disinterest in the political process.”

It takes a certain kind of cajones to call out a fellow member of your state’s delegation for not being a real party man when you yourself have just staged a monstrous coup of overt political expediency: re-affiliating as a Democrat for the first time since 1965 to win a nomination.  When President Obama was 4 years old.  It’s true Sestak raised questions of where Specter lies on the political spectrum after the senator switched parties back at the end of April, but isn’t that a given when a guy hasn’t been a Democrat in 44 years? Read the rest of this entry »

Falling In And Out Of Gov.

In Politics on July 10, 2009 at 1:51 am

Sarah Palin in Runner's World - Photo/Brian Adams

I started writing feverishly about Sarah Palin when the news of her resignation broke, but then I cut off and thought better of it.

We have seen so many stories about her decision.  Perhaps I was not mentally prepared for another Palin media bonanza so soon (they take a lot out of you), rife with skeptical snarky segment teases and tired old puns.

So, for now I will just say this.

There’s a maelstrom around her, big as ever and less concrete than ever.

Her and her messengers did a frightful job of pitching how leaving her position of leadership positions her better to be a leader.  This was not a story that was sprung upon them; they made it, and thus should have prepared better responses.

Despite this, I am reserving judgment for now, because inevitably we will see something else happen with her soon and I am going to wait that out.  It’s part of a multi-step plan that will come into focus.  As Nancy Gibbs wrote in Time, “It’s important to note that Palin never said she was leaving office to spend more time with her children.”  The media is hair-trigger and pouncing on the immediacy of the story. Read the rest of this entry »

Physicians Resistant.

In Media, Politics on July 3, 2009 at 10:43 am

Barack Obama Speaks to AMA on 6/15/09 - UPI Photo/Brian Kersey

The health care debate and accompanying legislative sausage-making fest (minds out of the gutter, please) is in full swing, and there is uncertainty about how it is going to end.

A smattering of groups are amped up about this, so it’s a good thing Mark Sanford wasn’t in Argentina getting better medical care or a rogue kidney transplant.

A week ago Wednesday evening, with all the trimmings of an infomercial and trappings of Oprah guised in an ABC News special, the President discussed his take on the issue with that sweet old man Charlie Gibson.  He harped on compromise as a key theme towards achieving an equitable outcome.

In the glowing aura of the soft mood lighting, Obama did not cede any ground on a public insurance option.  He boiled the harsh hesitance towards a new framework down to the platitude it just may be, saying people are worried because they think, “The devil they know, they think may be better than the devil they don’t.”

(The President held a forum this week on the same topic, and there was concern among the press that the attendees’ questions were hand-picked.  Seems like the Administration was caught.  Still better than having the town halls rehearsed back in the Bush days.)

In any event, the AMA has formally registered its opposition to a public option with Congress.  Some of its members even booed Obama in person.  Oh, and two weeks ago, the two largest insurance associations rebuked a public option, saying it would kill employer-based coverage.  Ruh-roh. Read the rest of this entry »