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The [Monday] Papers

"The debate was as difficult for Clinton as Romney," Robert Novak writes in his nationally syndicated Sun-Times column today.

"Following her script that Obama could not be trusted, Clinton quoted an alleged Associated Press crack that Obama 'could have had a pretty good debate with himself' (when in fact it was the AP quoting a Clinton supporter)."

Just patently not true. The article was real, not merely "alleged," and the description came from the AP's Springfield reporter, not a Clinton supporter. In fact, it was the lead. Use the Google, Bob. It's free.

Reality Check
CLINTON: You know, Senator Obama has been - as the Associated Press described it, he could have a pretty good debate with himself, because four years ago, he was for single-payer health care. Then he moved toward a rejection of that, a more incremental approach. Then he was for universal health care. Then he proposed a health care plan that doesn't cover everybody.

OBAMA: Well, you know, I think the Associated Press was quoting some of your folks, Hillary,

ASSOCIATED PRESS: If he wanted, the Barack Obama of today could have a pretty good debate with the Barack Obama of yesterday. They could argue about whether the death penalty is ever appropriate. Whether it makes sense to ban handguns. They might explore their differences on the Patriot Act or parental notification of abortion.


OBAMA: I have been entirely consistent in my position on health care.

BOSTON GLOBE: When Barack Obama and fellow state lawmakers in Illinois tried to expand healthcare coverage in 2003 with the "Health Care Justice Act," they drew fierce opposition from the insurance industry, which saw it as a back-handed attempt to impose a government-run system. ("Obama's Lobbyist Relationships Questioned.")

Over the next 15 months, insurers and their lobbyists found a sympathetic ear in Obama, who amended the bill more to their liking partly because of concerns they raised with him and his aides, according to lobbyists, Senate staff, and Obama's remarks on the Senate floor.

The wrangling over the healthcare measure, which narrowly passed and became law in 2004, illustrates how Obama, during his eight years in the Illinois Senate, was able to shepherd major legislation by negotiating competing interests in Springfield, the state capital. But it also shows how Obama's own experience in lawmaking involved dealings with the kinds of lobbyists and special interests he now demonizes on the campaign trail.

Most significant, universal healthcare became merely a policy goal instead of state policy - the proposed commission, renamed the Adequate Health Care Task Force, was charged only with studying how to expand healthcare access. In the same amendment, Obama also sought to give insurers a voice in how the task force developed its plan.

Lobbyists praised Obama for taking the insurance industry's concerns into consideration.

"Barack is a very reasonable person who clearly recognized the various roles involved in the healthcare system," said Phil Lackman, a lobbyist for insurance agents and brokers. Obama "understood our concern that we didn't want a predetermined outcome."

In one attempt at a deal, Obama approached the Campaign for Better Health Care with insurers' concerns, asking if the group would consider a less stringent mandate than requiring the state to come up with a universal healthcare plan. The coalition decided not to bend, said Jim Duffett, the group's executive director.

"In this situation, Obama was being a conduit from the insurance industry to us," Duffett said.

During debate on the bill on May 19, 2004, Obama portrayed himself as a conciliatory figure. He acknowledged that he had "worked diligently with the insurance industry," as well as Republicans, to limit the legislation's reach and noted that the bill had undergone a "complete restructuring" after industry representatives "legitimately" raised fears that it would result in a single-payer system.

"The original presentation of the bill was the House version that we radically changed - we radically changed - and we changed in response to concerns that were raised by the insurance industry," Obama said, according to the session transcript.

Homer Hankies
Meanwhile, Channel 2 is advertising a report called "A Vote For Change: The Obama Factor."

It's not a report about his record in Springfield.

Hope Dope
Walter Mondale won every debate he had with Ronald Reagan, but an editorial cartoon I remember from that time put it best, portraying Reagan in a cheerleader's outfit and Mondale with an armful of books. America votes for the cheerleader every time - and every time we pay the price.

Get a dose of reality in our latest episodes of Mystery Debate Theater 2008 from New Hampshire on Saturday night - two for the price of one!

* The Dems: Obama is above the facts.
* The GOP: McCain steals our material. Charlie Gibson wins us over.

Spare Change
"The appeal of 'change' as a cri de coeur is that it sounds dynamic without committing you to anything in particular," Michael Kinsley wrote in the New York Times on Sunday.

"Any slogan shared by Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is going to be pretty meaningless. Not only can voters give it any meaning they wish, it can have different meanings for different voters.

"Best of all, being the candidate of change in some vague and meaningless way gives you cover to come out for statis in most of the particulars."

Drive-By Cubbies
* The Cub Factor is back! And Big Z is getting angry.
* Debating the Drive-By Truckers - new comments appended.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Real change.


Posted on January 7, 2008

MUSIC - Britney's IUD.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - Locked Out And Loaded.

BOOKS - Foxconned.


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