Tales from the Trail

The First Draft: Congressman Wilson’s big moment

USA-HEALTHCARE/OBAMAThe dust is settling — and the political haggling is resuming — after President Barack Obama’s healthcare speech to Congress last night, but the spotlight is still shining, though not very flatteringly, on Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina.

If you watched on TV, you might not have seen him, but you probably heard a catcall from the House chamber when Obama told the audience that illegal aliens would not be covered by the proposed healthcare plan. That was Wilson, a Republican, shouting out, “You lie!”

Problem is, Obama spoke the truth on that point, and other Republicans acknowledged that. Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican who ran against Obama for the presidency last year, told NBC’s “Today” show that the plan would not cover illegal immigrants. Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, one of Obama’s most vocal congressional critics, said the same thing on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Cantor and others noted that Wilson apologized, and Vice President Joe Biden figured that Obama would accept that apology. Still, feathers were ruffled.

“I was embarrassed for a chamber and a Congress that I love,” Biden said on NBC. “I thought it demeaned the institution … That was very very damaging.”

But really, what’s the big deal? Mostly, it’s considered bad form to diss the president of the United States when he comes to address the country’s highest legislative body. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said as much in a complaint to Republican congressmen about Wilson’s behavior: “No president has ever had that happen. My advice is he apologize immediately. You know my number.”

After death, Kennedy’s words still ring in healthcare debate

Two weeks after his death, Senator Edward Kennedy’s words on healthcare rang out before a joint session of Congress when President Barack Obama quoted from a letter that he received from the liberal Democrat posthumously. USA-HEALTHCARE/OBAMA

Obama in seeking to turn public opinion his way in a primetime speech to Congress referred to Kennedy’s letter before an audience that included the late senator’s widow, Vicki, and two sons. The White House released it publicly after the president’s address.

The letter was written in May shortly after Kennedy was told that the brain cancer he was battling was terminal. The senator called healthcare reform “the cause of my life” and said he was optimistic that it would be achieved. USA-HEALTHCARE/OBAMA

Live blog of the Obama healthcare speech


President Barack Obama is making a speech to Congress on healthcare at 8 p.m. tonight and we will live blog it here.

The secret to strong-arming Michelle Obama

First lady Michelle Obama should be able to strong-arm just about anyone with those sculpted biceps that have been the talk of the town.

Women’s Health magazine has let the cat out of the bag about how Obama achieved those upper arms that she confidently bares and are the envy of the scared-sleeveless set. OBAMA/DINNER

Cornell McClellan, Obama’s personal trainer, tells the magazine it took 1,872 workouts since 1997, most of them at 5:30 a.m. (hmm let’s weigh the options — sleep or muscles, sleep or muscles, sleep…)

The First Draft: Deja vu for Obama, Congress, healthcare?


President Barack Obama heads for Capitol Hill tomorrow to address a joint session of Congress on one of the most pressing issues of the day, healthcare reform. For those with middling-to-long memories of Washington, this may have a familiar ring. Another Democratic president argued for healthcare reform on another September day some 16 years ago, and somehow healthcare remains unreformed.

rtr1oqi_compBack then, it was President Bill Clinton, who spoke to Congress on September 22, 1993. That speech was full of sounding phrases like “healthcare that can never be taken away” and “security, simplicity and savings.” It also paid tribute to contributions from then-first lady and now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose efforts to change U.S. healthcare went down to defeat.

Obama tried out some sounding phrases of his own on Labor Day in Cincinnati, calling on Congress to pass healthcare legislation this year.

Obama poll problem persists, Congress too

President Barack Obama can’t shake off his public opinion poll problem.

OBAMA/The Rasmussen reports daily presidential tracking poll today shows likely voter approval of presidential performance at 46 percent, the lowest level yet for Obama.

But wait, before anyone in Congress starts jumping up and down in glee, the public opinion of Congress is even more unflattering.

A Rasmussen Reports poll yesterday shows that 57 percent of likely voters would replace the entire Congress and start all over again.

Youngest Kennedys remember Ted Kennedy’s causes

In one of the most poignant moments of the funeral service for Ted Kennedy on Saturday,  the youngest members of the Kennedy clan offered up prayers for some of the causes dearest to the late senator’s heart.

Max Allen, one of Kennedy’s youngest grandchildren, offered up a prayer:

“For what my grandpa called ‘the cause of his life.’  As he said so often: ‘In every part of this land that every American will have decent quality healthcare as a fundamental right and not a privilege.’”

Other Kennedy children mentioned his work with the poor and to ensure that all people are respected for what they can do.

from FaithWorld:

Obama accuses some healthcare critics of “bearing false witness”

U.S. President Barack Obama enlisted the "Religious Left" on Wednesday to help galvanise public support for his faltering drive for healthcare reform, using the language of faith as he accused some of the critics of his biggest domestic project of "bearing false witness."


Obama made a brief pitch to a "call in" organised by various liberal and progressive faith groups called "40 minutes for Health Reform." It is part of  a campaign launched last week to counteract a movement to stop "Obamacare" that has been driven in part by conservative Christian activists.

"There has been a lot misinformation in this debate and there are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness," Obama said.

Obama gets personal on Palin’s “death panels”

OBAMABarack Obama seems to have taken personally Sarah Palin’s accusations that his administration wants to set up “death panels” for the elderly.

At a town hall meeting in Grand Junction, Colorado on Saturday the president got personal — citing his own grandmother, who died shortly before he was elected last year — when refuting charges by the former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential nominee about his healthcare reform plans.

“I just lost my grandmother last year.  I know what it’s like to watch somebody you love, who’s aging, deteriorate, and have to struggle with that,” Obama told the crowd.