For Obama, Five Appearances and Two Pressing Challenges
By Ben Pershing
President Obama spent the bulk of his five television appearances Sunday parrying questions on the two biggest challenges currently faced by his administration -- Afghanistan and health care -- and did relatively little to boost optimism on either subject.
On health-care reform, Obama admitted that the endeavor was harder than he thought it would be, and defended his position without necessarily making any news or delivering a signal that would move the debate forward. And on Afghanistan, Obama sent a clear message that he was skeptical about sending more troops into the conflict even as his top commander there has warned that he has little choice in the matter.
The New York Times led with the news that Obama "pushed back against the argument from liberal Democrats that the leading health care bill in the Senate would place a new financial burden on the middle class, saying in a series of television appearances that insurance would be made affordable through a competitive exchange and subsidies." The Associated Press also has Obama playing defense, arguing that "requiring people to get health insurance and fining them if they don't would not amount to a backhanded tax increase." The Los Angeles Times emphasized the president's humility: "Acknowledging that he hasn't persuaded the American public and Congress to support sweeping changes to healthcare, President Obama offered a humbling admission Sunday: His message is sometimes not 'breaking through.'" Bloomberg led with the same.
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