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The Rundown

12:30 p.m.: Cross-posted from the Post's new blog on the process of health care reform, The Daily Dose, by Ceci Connolly:

It's All About the Middle Class

Health care reform: It’s all about the middle class, stupid.

More accurately, it’s about a pair of fictional characters named Harry and Louise.

Fifteen years after the TV couple helped quash the Clinton administration’s health reform effort, the organization Third Way is releasing a report that concludes the battle is likely to come down to the same middle-class constituency again.

Analyzing four years worth of Census Bureau data, the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization found that only 64 percent of American adults had continuous private insurance for the entire period. The other 36 percent experienced gaps in coverage between 2004 and 2007.

That uncertainty -- Will I have insurance? How much will it cost? -- is fueling voters’ desire for a broad reworking of the health system, according to the report.

“What Harry and Louise need is stable coverage with stable costs that stays with them through the highs and lows of life,” says David Kendall, a senior fellow at Third Way.

The creative writers at Third Way break America’s middle-class workers into three categories: Stables, who have insurance but worry they may lose it; Gappers, who have gone without coverage and looked to the government for help; and Nevers who are chronically uninsured.

Especially striking is the finding that even well-educated, high-earning Americans now fret about the future of their own health coverage, suggesting a political tip for policymakers.

“For Harry and Louise to support health reform, they must be persuaded that the benefits of reform can and will accrue to them,” according to the report.

Read the entire report.

8:00 a.m.: Cross-posted from The Fix's White House Cheat Sheet, by Chris Cillizza:

In politics, as in life, there is a fine line between stupid and clever -- to paraphrase the great philosopher (and lead vocalist of Spinal Tap) David St. Hubbins.

The question percolating in Washington as a new week starts is whether comedian Wanda Sykes's shots at conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh at the White House Correspondents Dinner were the former, the latter or somewhere in between.

Sykes, who provided the comic relief at the annual gathering of politicians and the reporters who cover them, had already skewered President Obama before turning her attention to Limbaugh.

She suggested Limbaugh's much-repeated insistence that he hoped Obama would fail in office was equivalent to "treason" before adding:

"Maybe Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker but he was so strung out on Oxycontin he missed his flight. . . . I hope his kidneys fail."

"Too much?" Sykes asked, when the lines drew a mixture of laughter and boos.

That was the question debated throughout Washington on Sunday -- whether Sykes had crossed an imaginary line with her attacks on Limbaugh, turning a fun night into a harder-edged partisan affair.

Democrats in attendance -- and that was the majority of the crowd given the new administration -- largely wrote off Sykes's Limbaugh comment to the sort of good-natured ribbing that is part and parcel of the event.

Several Republicans the Fix spoke with, however, were far less sanguine about Sykes.

"Sykes was funny, toeing the line with her comedy the entire time until she brought up Rush," said Matt Mackowiak, a GOP consultant who attended the dinner. "It's one thing to say he is guilty of treason, another to say that he sounds like Osama Bin Laden, was the 20th hijacker on 9/11, and that you hope his kidneys fail. I thought it was over the line and marred her otherwise good performance."

Another GOP strategist who spoke only on the condition of anonymity said that Sykes's remarks about Limbaugh were "way beyond the pale" adding: "In essence she was saying, 'He's an anti-American terrorist and I hope he dies.' It's hard to see how that's in good fun."

Limbaugh himself did not return an email from the Fix seeking comment but it's hard to imagine that he won't address the issue in some way, shape or form on his radio show today. (Limbaugh may also want to take note of the fact that former vice president Dick Cheney said Sunday he'd rather have El Rushbo in the GOP than former Secretary of State Colin Powell. OUCH.)

Is this all much ado about nothing? Maybe. But, remember back to 2006 when Stephen Colbert used his speech at the Correspondents Dinner to deliver a smackdown of President George W. Bush and the press that covered him -- a moment cast by many liberals as an early clarion call for the sort of change Obama ran on and won with two years later.

Given that, there is clearly potential for Sykes' speech to echo well beyond the walls of the Washington Hilton. The question is whether anyone -- Limbaugh, GOP politicians etc -- will fan the flames over the next 24 to 48 hours. And, if so, does Sykes (or do any prominent Democrats) hit back?

Monday Fix Picks: Was the Fix's White House Correspondents Dinner a success? Nuff said.

1. President Obama begins to move on health care today.
2. Dan Balz on why the GOP needs more Jack Kemps.
3. Nate Silver on social and economic conservatives (with cool graphics).
4. More than 2,500 swine flu cases now in U.S.. Does anybody care?
5. Trekkies Unite!

Crist To Announce Tomorrow: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist will go public with the long awaited announcement that he will run for the Senate tomorrow, according to a source briefed on his thinking. Crist's announcement will set off a game of political musical chairs with the offices of state attorney general, chief financial officer and maybe even a House seat or two left open when the music stops. Crist will enter the Senate primary against former House speaker Marco Rubio as the solid -- if not prohibitive -- favorite given his statewide name identification and strong popularity ratings. Rubio is seen as the preferred candidate of former Gov. Jeb Bush (R) although it remains to be seen how much (if anything) Bush will do for Rubio either publicly or behind the scenes. Rep. Kendrick Meek is the favorite for the Democratic nod although he would start a general election against Crist as an underdog.

A Kentucky Primary Brewing: Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) continued his string of strange pronouncements over the weekend by announcing at a Republican gathering that he would be seeking a third term in 2010. "The battle is going to be long, but I am prepared to fight for my values," Bunning said at the Lincoln Day Dinner Saturday night. Bunning's announcement comes as Secretary of State Trey Grayson, who recently formed an exploratory committee with Bunning's blessing, has reconsidered his pledge not to challenge the incumbent in a primary, according to a Kentucky Republican familiar with his thinking. "Senator Bunning may say that he is running but anyone who has watched his performance over the past several months understands that he is unlikely to be the GOP nominee and is incapable of holding the seat," said the source. In addition to Grayson, state Senate president David Williams is also said to be considering the race. Democrats have a primary of their own with Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo and state Attorney General Jack Conway set to square off.

Rogers to Gore Group: Brian Rogers, one of the bright young stars who came out of Sen. John McCain's (Ariz.) presidential campaign, has signed on as research director for the Alliance for Climate Protection -- the group started by former vice president Al Gore. Rogers isn't the only one of McCain's top communicators crossing party divides; Jill Hazelbaker, who oversaw the communications department for the presidential bid, is now serving in the press shop for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's (I) reelection bid this November.

Pennsylvania Plans: With former governor Tom Ridge out of the running for Senate next year in Pennsylvania, will Republican recruiters cede the nomination to former Rep. Pat Toomey? Not yet. State and national Republicans are treating the race like an open seat and are still looking for alternatives to Toomey -- although the names are few and far between. Rep. Jim Gerlach (R) is interested in running statewide but it's hard to see how he could beat Toomey in a primary given his moderate voting record. Some Republicans hold out hope that former U.S. attorney Pat Meehan will reconsider his plan to challenge state Attorney General Tom Corbett for the gubernatorial nomination and instead run for Senate but that seems like a long shot. The most likely scenario remains Toomey as the GOP nominee for Senate next year.

Best iPhone Apps: Darkroom (the Fix could have used the camera-steadier while tweeting the Correspondents Dinner), Papijump and White Pages.

Say What?: "Well, he's not charming in the same sense that [former president] Clinton is." -- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) on the current president during an interview with "Fox News Sunday."

By washingtonpost.com editors  |  May 11, 2009; 12:33 PM ET
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Thank you, Chris. Imagine if a comedian "joked" that Obama was a terrorist who was guilty of treason and should be tortured to the point of kidney failure? As far as I know, Rush Limbaugh has never wished (in public) for Obama's death.

Posted by: JakeD | May 11, 2009 12:06 PM

When is the media going to start reporting on this administration instead of being their personal PR department?

The reason for freedom of the press is so there are checks and balances between the three branches and the media.

I get so disgusted by the coverage today that I don't even pay attention to it anymore.

You wonder why newspapers are going out of business and they are laying off employees. Do some real reporting and we'll start buying your papers and watching the news.

Posted by: sammamishcoug | May 11, 2009 12:31 PM

Comedienne spooking more than Rush?


When I tried to post a link to her interview about how she "transitioned" from NSA procurement officer to scathing comedic rabble-rouser, my browser stalled and "cookie" blocks that I didn't request showed up in my "preferences" list.

Just a coincidence?

Well, the link didn't work for me, but you can try it yourself at:


Why would my internet connection be "filtered" in such a manner? Could it have anything to do with MY former positions as a mainstream journalist? For those who are interested:

http://NowPublic.com/scrivener RE: "Gestapo USA"

PS -- My first attempt to post today about Wanda Sykes and NSA was met with the "blog for blog owner" message that almost certainly did not emanate from WaPo. For those who have had similar experiences when attempting to post political commentary, please read this:


Posted by: scrivener50 | May 11, 2009 12:42 PM

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