Between the GOP's wave of congressional retirements and its lackluster presidential candidates, the party's prospects are looking dim. But they have one cheerful possibility on the horizon: war with Iran.
Now is the season of Republican lethargy and discontent. A wave of retirements is dimming GOP congressional prospects, while the Republican presidential candidates have generated so little excitement that they are running behind the Democrats in fundraising and in the opinion polls. But there is one cheerful possibility on the horizon, and that is war with Iran.
Until recently, I had thought that an attack on Iran, besides being strategically reckless for America, would be politically suicidal for the Republican Party. I am still convinced an attack would be reckless for the country, but I am beginning to see how it could work for the GOP.
Carl Bernstein's biography of Hillary Clinton, A Woman in Charge, is the source of a story about her from 1993 -- including a threat she allegedly made to Democratic members of the U.S. Senate -- that has been cited repeatedly in the media in recent months as an illustration of her character. The real story, however, is that the episode probably never occurred as Bernstein reports it, and that mainstream publications have taken Bernstein's account on faith without double-checking the facts.
Hillary Clinton's "American Health Choices Plan," released September 17, opens a new chapter in the struggle for health care reform, though you would never know it from the predictable reactions on both sides of the political spectrum.
From the Republicans came the usual cries of "socialized medicine," even though the proposal builds on the existing system and calls for three features that have long been part of some conservative proposals: a mandate for individuals to carry insurance coverage, choice among competing health plans, and the use of tax credits to help make coverage affordable.
"Americans only want tragedies with happy endings," the novelist and critic William Dean Howells once said, and that strain in our culture seems to be at work once again in the debate about Iraq. Many of the war's original supporters now concede it was a tragic mistake, but they're still holding out for it to end happily. Like the president, they grasp at a few positive statistics or favorable developments in one province, struggling to sustain the hope that bad decisions can be made right if only our troops stay in Iraq until we turn things around.
Five days after his inauguration in 1993, Bill Clinton named his wife to chair a newly established President's Task Force on National Health Care Reform. From that moment, the public had the impression that Hillary Clinton and the task force under her direction were responsible for coming up with the administration's reform plan. And when that plan went down to defeat, many people assigned her a large share of the blame.