Tales from the Trail

Pelosi tells Harvard students she read every page of healthcare bill

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told students at Harvard University on Friday that she had indeed done her reading.

Taking questions during the 90-minute event, Pelosi assured one skeptical undergraduate that she, and many other House members, had read “every page” of the roughly 1,900-page healthcare bill passed by the House. 

She expounded on leadership qualities, healthcare reform, the impact of more women in Congress, troops to Afghanistan — oh, and healthcare reform. USA-HEALTHCARE/

Participating in the healthcare debate, so long a signature issue of the late Massachusetts political titan Ted Kennedy, was “humbling,” she said.

Pelosi said she would have had a hard time cobbling together enough votes for a healthcare bill without a public option to balance the influence of insurance companies.

Is Afghan war one of necessity for U.S.?

Disengaging from Afghanistan is the option President Barack Obama is the least likely to adopt as he closes in on a new strategy in the eight-year war he calls one of “necessity.”

AFGHANISTANBut on Thursday, at one of the countless policy conferences in Washington to discuss the president’s choices, some experts suggested withdrawal was the best route — and they said it would not necessarily impact efforts to fight al Qaeda.

Harvard University’s Stephen Walt called the argument for disengagement “fairly compelling,” while conceding it was not the most popular.

The First Draft: Kerry reports in after Kabul visit

Senator John Kerry, who once aspired to host meetings in the Oval Office, will be visiting President Barack Obama in that room Wednesday to talk about his recent trip to Afghanistan.

Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was credited with playing a key role in AFGHANISTAN/convincing Afghan President Hamid Karzai to agree to a second round of voting in a disputed national election.

A picture of him whispering into Karzai’s ear on Tuesday was splashed across the major U.S. newspapers on Wednesday and news programs gave detailed reports on Kerry’s behind-the-scenes shuttle diplomacy.

Civil air surrounds Afghan war strategy debate at White House

To hear spokesman Robert Gibbs describe it, President Barack Obama’s White House is a mighty civil place to work.

Even when formulating Afghan war strategy, for instance, the president, his generals and his advisers do not argue. Or apparently even forcefully state their views.

This despite their known differences in position, with Afghan war commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal seeking up to 40,000 more troops and Vice President Joe Biden wanting to maintain current troop levels while intensifying attacks on al Qaeda.