8 a.m. ET: President Obama has already made clear that his strategy in dealing with post-election unrest in Iran will continue to be marked by caution. But has the administration's effort to sell that strategy itself been too cautious?
"The last thing that I want to do is to have the United States be a foil for those forces inside Iran who would love nothing better than to make this an argument about the United States. We shouldn't be playing into that," Obama explained in an interview with CBS broadcast this morning. But the Associated Press notes, "The White House did not book any surrogates on the Sunday talk shows to defend or explain the administration's approach [while] Republicans used their broadcast appearances to call the president timid or feckless." The processsion of GOP senators who criticized Obama Sunday included John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley. A few Democratic lawmakers defended the administration, but there was no Hillary Clinton or Rahm Emanuel on the air to directly rebut the charges.
The partisan sniping in the U.S. comes as Iran finally admits that there were irregularities in its vote count. Nate Silver notes incredulously that an Iranian government spokesman says that there were more votes recorded than there were people eligible to vote "in only 50 cities." Oh, is that all? So the electoral process in the rest of the country was presumably pure as the driven snow. Making the situation stranger, the government says the vote discrepancies did not violate Iranian law. Perhaps that law needs an update.
On the health care front, the latest New York Times survey included some good news for reform proponents, finding that 72 percent of respondents support a "public option," and a majority were willing to pay higher taxes to fund the reform effort. But The Fix reports that a group of Republican consultants have their own new poll showing most Americans are happy with their health care, and a narrow majority would not be willing to pay more taxes to reduce the number of uninsured. It's all in the framing: Presumably, you will get a different result if you ask people to pay more to improve the system as a whole versus asking them to pay more just to help the currently uninsured.
Democrats will need more than poll results to get a bill through the Senate, particularly if Obama wants to stick to the ambitious completion timeline he has laid out. The Los Angeles Times says, "The path to that solution is narrowing, and proponents are struggling to find it." Graham called the cost estimates "a death blow" to the reform effort, while -- perhaps more notably -- Dianne Feinstein said "I don't know if he has the votes right now."
Costs aside, getting Democrats to agree amongst themselves on a bill presents its own set of problems, as the Finance panel and the HELP committee have been working on markedly different tracks. Politico points out that "Obama has yet to say" how strongly he is committed to having a public option in the bill, and what exactly he considers to be a public option. The White House scored some points in announcing a deal with the p[harmaceutical industry to reduce drug prices for Medicare, though it was odd that the agreement was rolled out over the weekend.
On the scandal front, A new poll from the Las Vegas Review Journal shows that John Ensign's favorable rating in Nevada has dropped from 53 percent to an anemic 39 percent, though a solid majority of respondents don't think he needs to resign. (Republicans gleefully point out that Harry Reid's rating -- 34 percent -- is even lower than the scandal-plagued Ensign's.) Ensign doesn't have many defenders back home, even within his own party. As the Las Vegas Sun succinctly puts it, "You know you’re at a low point when the only person willing to stand beside you in your time of marital and political strife is Jim Gibbons, the beleaguered Nevada governor who was once accused of assaulting a cocktail waitress, is in the middle of an ugly divorce and has approval ratings below the freezing temperature of water."
June 22, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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