Morning Must Reads -- Moderate Dems need a miracle at Blair House 

Wall Street Journal -- Health Bill Faces Hurdles in House

As Examiner colleague Susan Ferrechio points out, the group that most needs to see some bipartisan solution come out of Thursday’s health summit is moderate Democrats.

The six-hour blab-a-thon is unlikely to produce much beyond soundbites and new talking points, but for moderate House Democrats, the status quo is unsustainable.

They don’t want to vote for the president’s unpopular plan, but they’re afraid of being perceived as flip-floppers. Plus, if the bill fails, they’ve alienated conservatives by supporting the measure once and alienated liberals by letting it die.

On top of that, liberals are pushing for a ore ambitious package and abortion foes are threatening to block the plan.

It’s even more complicated because under the White House plan, the House is to pass the Senate bill that most House members detest. Then both houses tack on a budget rider that implements the White House tweaks. Then other issues, like abortion, are moved in a third piece of legislation.

What a mess!

Writers Janet Adamy and Greg Hitt check in with the moderate’s man in the House leadership.

“‘We may not be able to do all. I hope we can do all,’ said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D., Md.).

He still voiced strong support for action on a ‘comprehensive piece of legislation’ that expands health care to most Americans but added, ‘Having said that…if you can't do a whole, doing part is also good.’ to prevail.”

 

New York Times -- Gentle White House Nudges Test the Power of Persuasion

Writer Sheryl Gay Stolberg gives us a fascinating inside look at the way President Obama struggles to be a leader and an arbitrator at the same time. Stolberg gets the scene from aides in the room – Obama is playing “marriage counselor” to feuding Dems until late into the night until he finally becomes so frustrated that he finally walks out and leaves the members of Congress to their own devices, angry that they are refusing his plans to “bridge the problem.”

Stolberg looks at how community organization had served Obama well until the presidency, but now prove to be an impediment.

It’s one thing if you’re trying to get people to agree on how to put unemployed steelworkers back to work or where to build a new hospital. It’s another thing when you are trying to bridge disputes over fundamental questions of principle.

In the current case, getting everyone to agree that they want to improve health care wasn’t the first step toward consensus but rather a step towards fracturing the country over what the appropriate size and scope of the federal government should be.

Obama’s descent owes a lot to his willingness to embrace bold ideas but unwillingness to be bold in pursuing them.

“Gerald Kellman, who trained Mr. Obama as a community organizer in Chicago and taught him the organizing philosophy of leveraging power by listening and forming relationships based on self-interest, said the future president liked to keep things civil.

‘He didn’t gravitate toward confrontation, and would use it as a last resort,’ Mr. Kellman said, ‘and it seems to me he’s still there.’”

 

New York Times -- Hiring Freezes Hamper Weatherization Plan

Now that Princeton has won what was no doubt a fierce Ivy League battle to land former Obama green jobs czar Van Jones for a teaching gig, we get a look at how all the programs he championed are working out.

The Department of Energy’s inspector general finds an “alarming” lack of progress in the administration’s weatherization projects from the stimulus – with only a 2 percent completion rate one year on.

The problem seems to be that the state agencies tasked with spending $5 billion on weatherizing low-income homes just aren’t equipped to handle the task and can’t afford the cost of staffing up to be able to spend the money.

Writers Matthew Wald and Leslie Kaufman explain:

“Progress in Pennsylvania, which weatherized 1.28 percent of the houses and apartments it had intended to, was slowed by a deadlock over the state budget, the report said. Illinois wanted to hire 21 workers to oversee work on nearly 27,000 homes; it hired none because of a spending freeze, and completed only 331 homes, or 1.23 percent of its three-year target.”

 

Washington Post -- Air Force, Army leaders seek more data on 'don't ask, don't tell'

Gay activists (and a lot of news outlets) are irate at the foot-dragging on ending the ban on military service by the openly homosexual.

The chiefs of staffs of the Army and Air Force and Secretary of the Army John McHugh told a congressional panel that it would take a long time and considerable study before any changes – even the initial step of halting existing proceedings against gay troops – could be made.

Citing a fatigued force that has been at war for almost 9 years, the top brass says the change will take time to make such a big change.

Writer Ed O’Keefe looks to rebut that argument with a report from the leading gay activists on the subject that says 25 militaries now allow openly gay service and none have experienced any problems and are all better off for having done it.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, gamely going along with this initiative as well as the administration’s move to allow women to start serving on submarines, is one of the targets.

“Gates has said he would prefer up to a year to implement a repeal of ‘don't ask, don't tell,’ but Palm Center researchers suggest that a quicker approach would benefit U.S. forces.

‘Swift, decisive implementation signals the support of top leadership and confidence that the process will go smoothly, while a 'phased-in' implementation can create anxiety, confusion and obstructionism,’ the study said.”

 

Thomas Ricks -- Extending Our Stay in Iraq

Ricks, who has proved prescient about the Iraq war many times before, suggests that the U.S. may be forced to leave a garrison of perhaps 50,000 troops in Iraq for many years.

He suggests that the fault-lines being exposed by current factional disputes in Iraq will deepen precisely as the major drawdown of U.S. troops begins this summer.

If he’s right, the American Left will be beyond dispirited come our own elections.

“By late summer, the Obama administration could find itself in the uncomfortable position of reconsidering its vows to get out of combat in Iraq by August and to remove all troops by the end of next year. This will be politically difficult for the president, but he has shown admirable flexibility in his handling of Iraq. My impression is that the American people now wish they had never heard of Iraq, but understand just what a mess it is and are willing to give the president a surprising amount of leeway.”

 

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About The Author

Chris Stirewalt

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Washington Examiner Political Editor Chris Stirewalt, who coordinates political coverage for the newspaper and ExaminerPolitics.com in addition to writing a twice-weekly column and
regular blog posts.

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