- The Washington Times - Friday, June 19, 2009

IF WE’RE HONEST

“In his speech on health care to the American Medical Association, President Obama explained why the U.S. has ‘failed’ (yet again) to provide comprehensive reform that ‘covers everyone,’ ” Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger writes.

“He had a list of the failing people, who ‘simply couldn’t agree’ on reform: doctors, insurance companies, businesses, workers, others. And ‘if we’re honest,’ he said (ergo, disagreeing with this is dishonest) we must add to the list ‘some interest groups and lobbyists’ who have used ‘fear tactics.’

“It seems to me, if we’re honest, that one other contributor to the health care morass should have been on the president’s list: Congress. Indeed a close reading of Mr. Obama’s speech suggests he holds the political class innocent insofar as he blames everyone else but them. Can this be true?” Mr. Henninger asked.

“Back before recorded history, in 1965, Congress erected the nation’s first two monuments to health care ‘reform,’ Medicaid and Medicare. Medicaid was described at the time as a modest solution to the problem of health care for the poor. It would be run by the states and ‘monitored’ by the federal government.

“The reform known as Medicaid is worth our attention now because Mr. Obama is more or less demanding that the nation accept another reform, his ‘optional’ federalized health insurance program. He suggested several times before the AMA that opposition to it will consist of ‘scare tactics’ and ‘fear mongering.’

“Whatever Medicaid’s merits, this federal health care program more than any other factor has put California and New York on the brink of fiscal catastrophe. I’d even call it scary.”

ABC AND OBAMA

Matt Drudge obviously is not happy,” Susan Estrich writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer. ‘ABC TURNS PROGRAMMING OVER TO OBAMA; NEWS TO BE ANCHORED FROM INSIDE WHITE HOUSE,’ his headline screams.

“I don’t blame ABC for agreeing to spend a day next week broadcasting from the White House. You tell me which network would turn down an opportunity to anchor its news and prime-time special from the home of the most popular guy in the world,” Ms. Estrich said.

Lesley Stahl tells a great story of doing a critical report on President Ronald Reagan’s environmental record in connection with his visit to some spectacular backdrop. She expected the White House folks to be furious, but instead they thanked her for the great shots.

“Few of the viewers listened to Stahl; they were mesmerized by the pictures. The White House people knew this because they watched test audiences. Reagan, the beautiful backdrop: It was a home run.

“So, I predict, will be ABC’s night at the White House — even though I trust the network news division to retain appropriate control of the content, and anchors Charles Gibson and Diane Sawyer to ask difficult and well-researched questions, just as they would in any other venue or studio. I have no doubt that ABC will do as well as or better than any news organization in retaining its journalistic integrity while scoring a huge ratings blowout — which, we shouldn’t forget, is the dog, not the tail.

“But it’s what people see that worries me, and what people are saying about it that should ultimately trouble defenders of a free press. What they’ll see is a joint production of the Obama White House and a group of supposedly independent journalists. They’ll see the media not covering the White House, but dressing it; not reviewing the show, but hosting it.”

NO-SHOWS

“This has been a tough week for the hopeful ones who believed President Obamas vow to break with the old politics. Every day, it seems, the president caved in to another Democratic interest group working against the public weal,” Froma Harrop writes in the Providence (R.I.) Journal.

“Let’s start with the mayors’ conference just ended in Providence, R.I. One hundred Obama administration officials canceled their plans to attend, rather than cross a firefighters’ picket line set up to embarrass the host, Providence Mayor David Cicilline. The mayor was trying to curb the workers’ gold-plated benefits in a city reeling under an 11.3 percent unemployment rate. The no-shows included Vice President Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan,” the columnist said.

“The mayors were none too happy. Their cities are in economic crisis. They had a lot to discuss with administration officials. And dealing with their own public-employee dramas, they could imagine themselves in Cicilline’s shoes.

“As Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, put it: ‘None of us in this room are insulated from the economic challenges faced by the city of Providence. This will not be the last time this administration will be asked to make a similar choice.’ ”

HE’S ‘TROUBLED’

“Silence is complicity,” New York Post columnist Ralph Peters writes.

“Our president’s refusal to take a forthright moral stand on the side of the Iranian freedom marchers is read in Tehran as a blank check for the current regime,” Mr. Peters said.

“The fundamentalist junta has begun arresting opposition figures, with regime mouthpieces raising the prospect of the death penalty. Inevitably, there are claims that dissidents have been ‘hoarding weapons and explosives.’

“Foreign media reps are under house arrest. Cell phone frequencies are jammed. Students are killed and the killings disavowed.

“And our president is ‘troubled,’ but doesn’t believe we should ‘meddle’ in Iran’s internal affairs. (Meddling in Israel’s domestic affairs is just fine, though.)

“We just turned our backs on freedom.”

THUNE’S MOVE

“We’re hearing that South Dakota Sen. John Thune has locked up support to replace Sen. John Ensign as chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee,” Paul Bedard writes in the Washington Whispers column at usnews.com.

“The opening came when Ensign admitted to an affair with an ex-aide and could clear the way for Thune, talked about last year as a vice presidential nominee, to run against President Obama in 2012,” Mr. Bedard said.

“Tall, somewhat quiet, and Western handsome, Thune is already considered a dragon-slayer, having taken out former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle in 2004 and beating back a base closing in his state during the Bush administration. Should he nail the policy job as expected, he’ll be able to dream up new policies for a party starved for fresh ideas and faces. And if that works out, then look for him to make trips to primary and caucus states, ostensibly just to talk about GOP policies and platform but also to test the waters for a 2012 bid.”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected] washingtontimes.com.


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