Although the fact that Olympia Snowe voted for the Finance Committee's version of health-care reform was welcome, it shouldn’t have surprised anyone. If Snowe had voted no, she would have made herself instantly irrelevant, because a no vote there would have guaranteed a no vote on the floor, and another no vote on the conference report that will combine the House and Senate versions.
Back in 2007, Barack Obama said that if he got the chance to make a Supreme Court appointment, one of his criteria for a justice would be a capacity for "empathy." Conservatives were predictably outraged. But last week, we got to see what it looks like when a justice is unable to view the world from another's perspective. While Salazar v. Buono may not be too important in the grand scheme of things, one particular exchange during oral arguments ought to make conservatives give some thought to the quality of empathy. Because in the years to come, they're going to learn more about it, whether they want to or not.
If you haven't yet decided what to get your loved ones for the holidays, your worries may be over: Going Rogue: An American Life, by one Sarah Palin, will be available in bookstores Nov. 17, months ahead of schedule. I, for one, cannot wait.
Picture this scene: At a stirring Rose Garden ceremony, President Barack Obama signs health-care reform into law, with members of Congress beaming behind him. They erupt into cheers when he puts down his pen -- hands are shaken vigorously, and even a few hugs are exchanged. Afterward, everyone speaks of how they've honored Ted Kennedy and his lifelong crusade to get every American health coverage. Over the next few days, the news media note many times that Obama accomplished what every Democratic president since Harry Truman tried and failed to do. All agree that this will almost certainly be the defining domestic-policy achievement of his presidency. Republicans grumble but know they've been beaten.
Anti-tax protesters marched in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 12, spurred on by Fox News host Glenn Beck. (Flickr / The Rocketeer)
In Great Britain, the opposition party assembles a "shadow cabinet," offering up individuals who are supposed to speak for it on various policy issues. One of the results is that the party is required to at least pretend to care about the substance of government. We have no such tradition here in America, so our opposition, without much to do with its time other than plot strategies to undermine the party in power, is free to be as trivial as it wants.